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The History of Tobacco

By Gene Borio


Page Two of Four

In The Eighteenth Century--Snuff holds sway

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• ENGLAND: George III's wife known as "Snuffy Charlotte" • FRANCE: Napoleon said to have used 7 lb. of snuff per month

• 1700: RUSSIA: Peter the Great smokes and repeals bans on smoking.(TSW)

• 1701: MEDICINE: Nicholas Andryde Boisregard warns that young people taking too much tobacco have trembling, unsteady hands, staggering feet and suffer a withering of "their noble parts."

• 1705: VIRGINIA Assembly passes a law legalizing lifelong slavery. . . . all servants imported and brought into this country, by sea or land, who were not christians in their native country . . . shall be . . . slaves, and as such be here bought and sold notwithstanding a conversion to christianity afterwards."

• 1713: Inspection regulations passed to keep up standards of Virginia leaf exports (not effective until 1730). (ATS)

• 1724: Pope Benedict XIII learns to smoke and repeals bans on smoking.(TSW)

• 1727: ECONOMY: "Tobacco notes" attesting to quality and quantity of one's tobacco kept in public warehouses are authorized as legal tender in Virginia. Used as units of monetary exchange throughout 18th Century.

• 1730: LEGISLATION: Virginia Inspection Acts come into effect, standardizing and regulating tobacco sales and exports to prevent the export of "trash tobacco"--shipments diluted with leaves and household sweepings, which were debasing the value of Virginia tobacco. Inspection warehouses were empowered to verify weight and kind and kind of tobacco.

• 1730: VIRGINIA: BUSINESS: First American tobacco factories begun in VirginiaÑsmall snuff mills

• 1747: LEGISLATION: Maryland passes its own Maryland Inspection Act to control quality of exports.

• 1750: RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS: Gilbert Stuart builds snuff mill in Rhode Island, ships his products in dried animal bladders

• 1758: LEGISLATION: Virginia Assembly passes wildly unpopular "Two Penny Act," forbidding payment in percentage of tobacco crop to some public officials, such as clergy. The crop was small at this period, making tobacco a seller's market. The law mandating a regular salary for these officials severely cut the clergy's real income.

• 1753: SWEDEN: Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus names the plant genus, nicotiana. and describes two species, nicotiana rustica. and nicotiana tabacum."

• 1760: BUSINESS: Pierre Lorillard establishes a "manufactory" in New York City for processing pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff. P. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the US.

• 1761: ENGLAND: John Hill performs perhaps first clinical study of tobacco effects, warns snuff users they are vulnerable to cancers of the nose. • 1761: ENGLAND: Dr. Percival Pott notes incidence of cancer of the scrotum among chimneysweeps, theorizing a connection between cancer and exposure to soot.

• 1762: General Israel Putnam introduces cigar-smoking to the US. After a British campaign in Cuba, "Old Put" returns with three donkey-loads of Havana cigars; introduces the customers of his Connecticut brewery and tavern to cigar smoking (BD)

• 1763: Patrick Henry argues a tobacco case.The clergy had been paid in tobacco until a late 1750s Virginia law which decreed they should be paid in currency at the rate of 2 cent/lb, when tobacco was selling for 6 cents/lb. The law was vetoed by the Crown, but was still sometimes adhered to in Virginia, and some clergy sued their parishes. Henry defended one such parish (Hanover County) in court. He berated England's interference in domestic matters, and convinced the jury to give the plaintiff/clergyman only one penny in damages.

• 1771-12-17: FRANCE: French official is condemned to be hanged for admitting foreign tobacco into the country.

• 1776: AMERICAN REVOLUTION Along "Tobacco Coast" (the Chesapeake), the Revolutionary War was variously known as "The Tobacco War." Growers had found themselves perpetually in debt to British merchants; by 1776, growers owed the mercantile houses millions of pounds. British tobacco taxes are a further grievance. Tobacco helps finance the Revolution by serving as collateral for loans from France.

• 1780-1781: VIRGINIA: "TOBACCO WAR" waged by Lord Cornwallis to destroy basis of America's credit abroad (ATS)

• 1781: Thomas Jefferson suggests tobacco cultivation in the "western country on the Mississippi." (ATS)

• 1788: BUSINESS: Spanish NEW ORLEANS opened for export of tobacco by Americans in Mississippi valley. (ATS)

• 1789-1799: FRENCH REVOLUTION French masses begin to take to the cigarito, as the form of tobacco use least like the aristocratic snuff.

• 1791: HEALTH: ENGLAND: London physician John Hill reports cases in which use of snuff caused nasal cancers

• 1794: The U.S Congress passes its first tax on tobacco. The tax of 8 cents applies only to snuff, not the more plebian chewing or smoking tobacco. The tax is 60% of snuff's usual selling price.

• 1795: Sammuel Thomas von Soemmering of Maine reports on cancers of the lip in pipe smokers • 1798. Famed physician Benjamin Rush writes on the medical dangers of tobacco and claims that smoking or chewing tobacco leads to drunkenness.

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The Nineteenth Century--The Age of the Cigar

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• 1800: CANADA: Tobacco begins being commercially grown.

• 1805: LEWIS AND CLARK explore Northwest, using gifts of tobacco as "life insurance."

• 1810: CONNECTICUT: Cuban cigar-roller brought to Suffield to train local workers. (ATS)

• 1820: American traders open the Santa Fe trail, find ladies of that city smoking "seegaritos." (ATS)

• 1826: ENGLAND is importing 26 pounds of cigars a year. The cigar becomes so popular that within four years, England will be importing 250,000 pounds of cigars a year.

• 1826: MEDICINE: The purified form of the nicotine compound is obtained

• 1828: GERMANY: Heidelberg students Ludwig Reimann and Wilhelm Heinrich Posselt write exhaustive dissertations on the pharmacology of nicotine, concluding it is a "dangerous poison."

• 1830s: First organized anti-tobacco movement in US begins as adjunct to the temperance movement. Tobacco use is considered to dry out the mouth, "creating a morbid or diseased thirst" which only liquor could quench..

• 1830: PRUSSIA: Prussian Government enacts a law that cigars , in public, be smoked in a sort of wire-mesh contraption designed to prevent sparks setting fire to ladies' "crinolines" and hoop skirts. (BD)

• 1832: AGRICULTURE: TUCK patents curing method for Virginia leaf.

• 1839: AGRICULTURE: NORTH CAROLINA: SLADE "yallercure" presages flue-cured Bright tobacco. Charcoal used in flue-curing for the first time in North Carolina. Not only cheaper, its intense heat turns the thinner, low-nicotine Piedmont leaf a brilliant golden color. This results in the classic American "Bright leaf" variety, which is so mild it virtually invites a smoker to inhale it.(RK), (ATS)

• 1836: USA: Samuel Green of the New England Almanack and Farmers Friend writes that tobacco is an insectide, a poison, a fillthy habit, and can kill a man. (LB)

• 1842: Opium War. Treaty of Nanjing forces China to accept opium from British traders

• 1843: FRANCE: SEITA monopoly begins manufacture of cigarettes.

• 1843: MEDICINE: The correct molecular formula of nicotine is established

• 1845: ART: Prosper Merimee's novel, Carmen, about a cigarette girl in an Andalusian factory, is published

• 1846-1848: MEXICAN WAR US soldiers bring back a taste for the darker, richer tobacco favored in Latin countries, leading to an explosive increase in the use of the cigar.

• 1847: ENGLAND: Philip Morris opens shop; sells hand-rolled Turkish cigarettes.

• 1849: BUSINESS: J.E. Liggett and Brother is established in St. Louis, Mo., by John Edmund Liggett

• 1852:Washington Duke, a young tobacco farmer, builds a modest, two-story home near Durham, NC, for himself and his new bride. The house, and the log structure which served as a "tobacco factory" after the Civil War may still be seen at the Duke Homestead Museum.

• 1852: Matches are introduced, making smoking more convenient.

• 1853-1856: EUROPE: CRIMEAN WAR British soldiers learn how cheap and convenient the cigarettes ("Papirossi") used by their Turkish allies are, and bring the practise back to England.

• 1854: ENGLAND: BUSINESS: London tobacconist Philip Morris begins making his own cigarettes.

• 1856-1857: ENGLAND: A running debate among readers runs in the British medical journal, Lancet. The argument runs as much along moral as medical lines, with little substantiation.(RK)

• 1857: BUSINESS: James Buchanan "Buck" Duke is born to Washington "Wash" Duke, an independent farmer who hated the plantation class, opposed slavery, and raised food and a little tobacco.

• 1859: Reverend George Trask publishes tract "Thoughts and stories for American Lads: Uncle Toby's anti-tobacco advice to his nephew Billy Bruce". He writes, "Physicians tell us that twenty thousand or more in our own land are killed by [tobacco] every year (LB)

• 1860: The Census for Virginia and North Carolina list 348 tobacco factories, virtually all producing chewing tobacco. Only 6 list smoking tobacco as a side-product (which is manufactured from scraps left over from plug production).

• 1860: BUSINESS: Manufactured cigarettes appear. A popular early brand is Bull Durham.

• 1860: BUSINESS: MARKETING: Lorillard wraps $100 bills at random in packages of cigarette tobacco named "Century," in order to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the firm (BD)

• 1861-1865: USA: THE CIVIL WAR: Tobacco is given with rations by both North and South; many Northerners are introduced to tobacco this way. During Sherman's march, Union soldiers now attracted to the mild, sweet "bright" tobacco of the South, raided warehouses--including Washington Duke's--for some chew on the way home. Some bright made it all the way back. Bright tobacco becomes the rage in the North. • 1862: First federal USA tax on tobacco; instituted to help pay for the Civil War, yields about three million dollars.(TSW)

• 1863: SUMATRA: Nienhuys creates Indonesian tobacco industry Dutch businessman Jacobus Nienhuys travels to Sumatra seeking to buy tobacco, but finds poor growing and production facilities; his efforts to rectify the situation are credited with establishing the indonesian tobacco industry.

• 1863: US Mandates Cigar Boxes. Congress passes a law calling for manufacturers to create cigar boxes on which IRS agents can paste Civil War excise tax stamps. The beginning of "cigar box art."

• 1864: AGRICULTURE: WHITE BURLEY first cultivated in Ohio Valley; highly absorbent new leaf proves ideal for sweetened chewing tobacco.

• 1864: BUSINESS: 1st American cigarette factory opens and produces almost 20 million cigarettes.

• 1864: First tax levied on cigarettes.

• 1865-70: NEW YORK CITY: Demand for exotic Turkish cigarettes grows in New York City; skilled European rollers imported by New York tobacco shops. (ATS)

• 1868: UK: Parliament passes the Railway Bill of 1868, which mandates smoke-free cars to prevent injury to non-smokers.

• 1873: BUSINESS: Philip Morris dies. (Yes, that Philip Morris)

• 1873: Myers Brothers and Co. markets "Love" tobacco with them of North-South Civil War reconcilliation.

• 1874: BUSINESS: Washington Duke, with his sons Benjamin N. Duke and James Buchanan Duke, builds his first tobacco factory

• 1875: BUSINESS: Allen and Ginter offer a reward of $75,000 for cigarette rolling machine. (LB)

• 1875: BUSINESS: R. J. Reynolds founds R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to produce chewing tobacco, soon producing brands like Brown's Mule, Golden Rain, Dixie's Delight, Yellow Rose, Purity.

• 1875: BUSINESS: Richmond, VA: Allen & Ginter cigarette brands ("Richmond Straight Cut No. 1," "Pet") begin using picture cards to stiffen the pack and give the buyer a premium. Some themes: "Fifty Scenes of Perilous Occupations," "Flags of All Nations," boxers, actresses, famous battles, etc. The cards are a huge hit.(RK)

• 1875: ART: Georges Bizet's opera, Carmen, based on Merimee's novel about a cigarette girl in an Andalusian factory, opens.

• 1876: Benson & Hedges receives its first royal warrant from Edward VII, Prince of Wales.

• 1878: BUSINESS: J.E. Liggett & Brother incorporates as Liggett & Myers Company. By 1885 Liggett is world's largest plug tobacco manufacturer; doesn't make cigarettes until the 1890's

• 1878: BUSINESS: Trading cards and coupons begin being widely used in cigarette packs.

• c.1880s: USA: Women's Christian Temperance Movement publishes a "Leaflet for Mothers' Meetings" titled "Narcotics", by Lida B. Ingalls. Discusses evils of tobacco, especially cigarettes. Cigarettes are "doing more to-day to undermine the constitution of our young men and boys than any other one evil" (p. 7). (LB)

• c.1880s: ADVERTISING: Improvements in transportation, manufacturing volume, and packaging lead to the ability to sell the same branded product nationwide. What can be sold nationwide can and must be advertised nationwide. Advertising agencies sprout like wildflowers. The most advertised product throughout most of the 19th century: elixirs and patent medicines of the "cancer cure" variety.

• c.1880s: ENGLAND: BUSINESS: Mssrs. Richard Benson and William Hedges open a tobacconist shop near Philip Morris in London.(RK)

• 1880: Bonsack machine granted first cigarette machine patent

• 1881: BUSINESS James Buchanan ("Buck") Duke enters the manufacturered cigarette business, moving 125 Russian Jewish immigrants to Durham, NC. First cigarette: Duke of Durham brand. Duke's factory produces 9.8 million cigarettes, 1.5 % of the total market.

• 1883: BUSINESS: Oscar Hammerstien receives patent on cigar rolling machine.(TSW)

• 1884: BUSINESS: Duke heads to New York City to take his tobacco business national and form a cartel that eventually becomes the American Tobacco Co. Duke buys 2 Bonsack machines., getting one of them to produce 120,000 cigarettes in 10 hours by the end of the year. In this year Duke produces 744 million cigarettes, more than the national total in 1883. Duke's airtight contracts with Bonsack allow him to undersell all competitors.

• 1886: USA Patent received for machine to manufacture plug tobacco. (LB)

• 1886: Tampa, FL: Don Vicente Martinez Ybor opens his first cigar factory. Others follow. Within a few years, Ybor city will become the cigar capital of the US.

• 1887: PALESTINE: A traveler reports that the Arabs of the Syrian Desert get giddy and headaches from a few whiffs of tobacco. They smoke a local plant 'Hyoscyamus'. (LB)

• 1887: USA: Advice from the cigar and tobacco price list of M. Breitweiser and Brothers of Buffalo, Item #5 -- "If you think smoking injurious to your health, stop smoking in the morning". (LB)

• 1887: USA: Two men held pipe smoking contest that lasted one and a half hours. Victory was declared when one man filled his pipe for the tenth time, his oppenent did not. (LB)

• 1887: His contracts with Bonsack unknown to his competitors, Buck Duke slashes prices, sparking a price war he knew he'd win.

• 1889: SCIENCE: Nicotine and nerve cells reported on. Langley and Dickinson publish landmark studies on the effects of nicotine on the ganglia; they hypothesize that there are receptors and transmitters that respond to stimulation by specific chemicals. (RK)

• 1889: USA: BUSINESS: Buck Duke is spending $800,000 marketing his cigarettes. (LB)

• 1889-04-23: BUSINESS: The five leading cigarette firms, including W. Duke Sons & Company, form the American Tobacco Company. It's president is Buck Duke.

• c.1890s: USA: Women's Christian Temperance Movement publishes "Narcotics", by E. B. Ingalls. Pamphlet discusses evils of numerous drugs, tobacco, cocaine, ginger, hashish, and headache medicines. Offers 16 suggestions to workers. (LB)

• 1890: Peak of chewing tobacco consumption in V. S., three pounds per capita. (ATS)

• 1890: "Tobacco" appears in the US Pharmacopoeia, an official government listing of drugs.

• 1890s: RESEARCH: Pure nicotine is first synthesized.

• 1890: 26 states and territories have outlawed the sale of cigarettes to minors (age of a "minor" in a particulary state could be anything from 14-24.) • 1890: BUSINESS: Dukes establish the American Tobacco Company, which will soon monopolize the entire US tobacco industry. ATC will be dissolved in Anti-Trust action in 1911.

• 1890: LITERATURE: My Lady Nicotine, Sir James Barrie, London

• 1892: POLITICS: Reformers petition Congress to prohibit the manufacture, importation and sale of cigarettes. The Senate Committee on Epidemic Diseases, while agreeing that cigarettes are a public health hazard, finds that only the states have the authority to act. The committee urges the petitioners to seek redress from state legislatures.

• 1893: The state of Washington bans the sale and use of cigarettes.

• 1894: BUSINESS: By now, Philip Morris has passed from the troubled Morris family, and is controlled by the Thompson family (RK).

• 1894: BUSINESS: Brown & Williamson formed as a partnership in Winston-Salem, making mostly plug, snuff and pipe tobacco. (RK)

• 1898: SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR: Congress raises taxes on cigarettes 200%

• 1898: IN COURT: Tennessee Supreme Court upholds a total ban on cigarettes, ruling they are "not legitimate articles of commerce, because wholly noxious and deleterious to health. Their use is always harmful."

• 1899: Lucy Payne Gaston, who claims that young men who smoke develop a distinguishable "cigarette face," founds the Chicago Anti-Cigarette League, which grows by 1911 to the Anti-Cigarette League of America, and by 1919 to the Anti-Cigarette League of the World.

• 1899: The Senate Finance Committee, in secret session, rolls back the wartime excise tax on cigarettes.(RK)

• 1899: BUSINESS: Liggett & Myers taken into Duke's Tobacco Trust. Duke has finally won the Bull Durham brand of chew.

• 1899: BUSINESS: RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company incorporates..