For those that do not know, Nicotiana tabacum is the scientific name for Tobacco. Nicotiana has been and continues to be one of the most commonly used and socially important plants. Its use began in prehistoric America; ethno-botanists surmise that 8000 years ago the leaf blades of wild tobacco plants were wilted, dried, and then rolled into wads to make cigars or stuffed into pipes for smoking. The roots of the word tobacco itself are still shady, although many consider it is simply a corruptness of the word Tobago, which is the epithet of a Caribbean island. Despite others believe it originated in the word Tabasco, a part (and now state) in Mexico.
The Nicotiana tabacum was cultivated in Mexico, the West Indies and northern South America in pre-Columbian times, but evidence of its use in the Andes has not yet been found. Tobacco is a perennial herbaceous plant and found only in cultivation. It is a robust annual little branched herb up to 2.5m high with large green leaves and long trumpet shaped white-pinkish flowers. All parts are sticky, covered with short viscid-glandular hairs, which exude a yellow secretion containing nicotine. The lower leaves are the largest up to 60 cm long, shortly stalked or un-stalked. The flowers are inflorescences, the tube 5–6 cm long, 5mm in diameter, expanded in the lower third (calyx) and upper third (throat), white-pinkish 1-5-2 cm long. Seeds are very numerous, very small, ovoid or kidney shaped, brown.
N. tabacum is one of three principal hallucinogenic plants used by indigenous tribes in Amazonian Ecuador and Peru. Consumption of tobacco (tsaank) includes chewing, drinking juice, snuffing, and smoking. The smoke helps to protect from evil spirits. Males consume juice from steeped tobacco leaves at the age of six to help them to achieve arutam (spirit vision). It is the first hallucinogen taken by apprentice shamans. After becoming acclimated to tobacco, they switch to stronger hallucinogens.
The Spanish brought tobacco to Europe after their conquest of the New World. Christopher Columbus encountered pipe smoking when he first landed in the West Indies. It is supposed that Columbus was not impressed by cigarette smoking or its use amongst native peoples, but many crewmen grew found of the unusual plant. Shortly it rapidly caught on in Spain and Portugal. The peace pipe was important in Amerindian ceremonies and they believed tobacco had medicinal properties – this is why it was first taken to Europe.
In 1560, Jean Nicot de Villemain brought tobacco seeds and leaves as a “wonder drug” to the French court. In 1586 the botanist Jaques Dalechamps gave the plant the name of ‘Herba nicotiana’, which was also adopted by Linne. It was considered a decorative plant at first, then a panacea, before it became a common snuff and tobacco plant. Tobacco arrived in Africa at the beginning of the 17th century. The leaf extract was a popular pest control method up to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1851, the Belgian chemist Jean Stas was the first to prove the use of tobacco extract as a murder poison in the civilized world. The Belgian count Hippolyte Visart de Bocarme had poisoned his brother-in-law with tobacco leaf extract in order to acquire some urgently needed money. This was the first exact proof of alkaloids in forensic medicine.
The best tobacco plantation in the United States was set up in Virginia in 1612. More tobacco plantations came after in Maryland right after. As you move the tobacco became a popular crop, it was merely smoked in pipes. The cigar was not brought in to the United States right until the late 18th century. Israel Putnam, an US Army general who had functioned in the Revolutionary War, is accredited with introducing the cigar to the United States. He had traveled to Cuba after the Revolutionary War and retorted with a box of Cuban cigars. Their attraction speedily spread, and in time cigar factories were established in the region of Harford, Connecticut, the place where General Putnam resided.
Smokers are killed by lung cancer and respiratory diseases and suffer numerous heart problems including vascular contractions, cardiac irregularities, palpitations and degeneration of the arteries. Keeping yourself away from cigarettes is not as hard as it sounds, all you need is a big good commitment; you will make it through.