Tobacco Smoking:Concept of Tobacco
According to Boston University medical centers, tobacco is a plant that grows natively in north and South America. It is in the same family as the potato, pepper and the poisons nightshade, a very deadly plant. The seed of a tobacco plant is very small. A 1 ounce sample contains about 500,000 seeds. It is believed that tobacco began growing in the Americas about 6,000B.C.
As early as IB.C, American, Indians began using tobacco in many different ways, such as in religious and medicinal practices. It was believed to be a cure-all, and was used to dress wounds, as well as a pain killer chewing tobacco was believed to relieved the pain of a toothache (chaloipaa and Warner 1999)
On October 15, 1492, Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco leaves as a gift from the American Indians that he encountered,, soon after, sailors brought tobacco back to Europe, and the plant was being growth all over Europe. The major reason for tobaccos growing popularity in Europe was its supposed healing properties. Europeans believed that tobacco could cure almost anything, from bad breath to cancer. (surannic, ferb and Leonard 1999).
In 1571, a Spanish doctor named Nicolas Monardes wrote a book about the history of medicinal plants of the new world. In this he claimed that tobacco could cure 36 health problems. In 1588, a Virginian named Thomas Harriet promoted smoking tobacco as a viable way to get one’s daily dose of tobacco. Unfortunately, he died of node cancer (because it was popular then to breath the smoke out through the nose). (Viscusi 1992)
During the 1600’s tobacco was so popular that it was frequently used as money, tobacco was literally “as good gold”. This was also a time when some of the dangerous effects of smoking tobacco were being realized by some individuals. In 1610 Sir Francis Bacon noted that trying to quit the bad habit was really hard.
Tobacco was first introduced to Africa in 1560 when the Portuguese and Spanish merchants shipped the leaves to East African from where it spread to central and West Africa. By the 1750’S European settlers were already growing tobacco in South Africa. Tobacco leaves are primarily. Tobacco products contain small quantities of nicotine in them (Mackay and Erikson, 2002).