Today, as well as throughout history, many people have enjoyed and still enjoy smoking or chewing tobacco. Namely, this plant presents a significant passion in many people's lives. However, tobacco always carried a stigma of being extremely unhealthy, especially in the long run, since its consumption leads to numerous health problems.
Basically, tobacco is an agricultural product which is processed from the leaves of a plant from the genus Nicotana. It can be used in certain products or can be the part of organic pesticides and serve a purpose of a recreational drug.
Tobacco is consumed by snuffing, dipping, smoking or snuffing. Today, more than 70 different types of tobacco exist, leading to gradual addiction when people consume them over a longer period of time.
Tobacco as an Agricultural Product
Tobacco is cultivated through a process quite similar to the one of all other agricultural products. It is obtained in seeds which are later placed in hotbeds or cold frames, which protect them from insects. Then, the plant is transferred to the fields and planted there.
Bear in mind that tobacco grows once every year. During this time, it needs to be harvested. This can be performed mechanically or manually. Once collected and harvested, tobacco is stored properly, so that it can get exposed to oxidation. This process betters the quality of smoke when the tobacco is consumed later. During the storing process, the tobacco is prepared for other forms of its consumption too, depending on the type of usage it was harvested for.
At the final stage of processing, tobacco is commonly either pressed into plugs or sliced into flakes.
History of Tobacco
Tobacco, as a word, has its etymological roots in the Arawakan language of the Caribbean. The word “tabaco” refers to the tobacco leaves or the Y-shaped pipe used for sniffing this plant.
When the European settlers first set foot on the American ground, the natives have already been using tobacco for smoking. Native American tribes have used tobacco, smoking it traditionally, on many occasions. Later, when the settlers visited Europe once more, they brought tobacco with them, spreading the tradition to the Continent, making it more and more popular among people.
Native American shamans or medicine men used tobacco for rituals while other people carried tobacco with them, stored in small pouches, being adequate items for trading or engaging into peace ceremonies
On the other hand, smoking and the entire process of smoke inhalation was already popular in the Eastern part of the world. There, people consumed opium and cannabis this way.
As it was mentioned above, tobacco had a strong economic value and was used as a trade item. Later on, it lost its value to cotton. After the American Civil War, the revolution in the development of technology gave birth to an automated cigarette production.
Today, we know that tobacco is connected to cancer and many other diseases. Therefore, making commercials regarding tobacco brands is prohibited in many countries.
Impact of Tobacco
Tobacco and its consumption have, expectedly, left a giant impact on the human society. Throughout history, those who realized the dangers of tobacco tried to keep themselves safe from the dangerous smoke. Thus, smoking was and is prohibited in many public places.
Throughout history, smoking was usually more allowed to men, since they were able to smoke in public. On the other hand, women who smoked were considered promiscuous and were often not allowed to smoke in public.
After the American Civil War, smoking cigars became a way of manifesting your masculinity and male power. Thus, cigars are often connected to capitalists and powerful people.
Today, tobacco is becoming more and more loathed by the global society and many anti-smoking campaigns and support groups exist, helping people overcome this unhealthy habit.
Regardless of the negative stigma tobacco has, it is still smoked by more than 1.22 billion people around the world. Men are more likely to consume tobacco than women are and people with lower income are more prone to this unhealthy habit. According to WHO reports, tobacco consumption takes 5.4 million of 58.8 million deaths which take place on a global level. Thus, over 100 million deaths in the 20th century happened due to tobacco consumption.
Finally, according to researches from 2002, about 33% of all males smoke and smoking, in general, kills every 10th person. The estimations are that, by the year 2030, smoking will take every 6th life. Regardless of this terrifying data, more than 10 million cigarettes are sold every minute.
All in all, tobacco has found its way into the lives of human beings since time immemorial. Nevertheless, with today's levels of knowledge, we are capable of perceiving the potential damage tobacco smoking can cause. It is up to us to change our ways and life healthier lives before too late.