Tobacco

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q.v. Cultivation of Tobacco, Harvesting, Cuban Tobacco
This article ist based on Wikipedia (text) and 5THAVENUE Products Trading GmbH (pictures)

Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. Its most common usage is for smoking (in the form of a cigarette or cigar.

Tobacco is commercially available almost everywhere in dried, cured, and natural forms. In addition to being consumed as cigarettes and cigars, it can be smoked in a stem pipe, water pipe, or hookah. Tobacco can also be chewed, "dipped" (placed between the cheek and gum), or sniffed into the nose as finely powdered snuff.

History

Tobacco had already long been used in the Americas when European settlers arrived and introduced the practice to Europe, where it became hugely popular. At extremely high doses, tobacco becomes hallucinogenic; accordingly, Native Americans did not always use the drug recreationally. Rather, it was often consumed in extraordinarily high quantities and used as an entheogen; among some tribes, this was done only by experienced shamans or medicine men. Eastern North American tribes would carry large amounts of tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item, and would often smoke it in pipes, either in defined ceremonies that were considered sacred, or to seal a bargain, and they would smoke it at such occasions in all stages of life, even in childhood. It was believed that tobacco was a gift from the Creator, and that the exhaled tobacco smoke was capable of carrying one's thoughts and prayers to heaven.

In addition to being smoked, uncured tobacco was often eaten, drunk as tobacco juice, or used in enemas. Early missionaries often reported on the ecstatic state caused by tobacco. As its use spread into Western cultures, however, it was no longer used in such large quantities or for entheogenic purposes. Religious use of tobacco is still common among many indigenous peoples, particularly those of South America and North America. Among the Cree and Ojibway of Canada and the north central United States it is offered to the Creator with a prayer; it is used in sweatlodges, pipe ceremonies, smudging and presented as a gift. A gift of tobacco is tradition when asking an Ojibway elder a question of a spiritual nature. Because of its sacred and respected nature, tobacco abuse (thoughtlessly and addictively chain smoking) is seriously frowned upon by the Algonquian tribes of Canada, as it is believed that if one so abuses the plant, it will abuse that person in return, causing sickness.

Tabakblatt s.jpg

Source: 5TH AVENUE Products Trading GmbH

With the arrival of Europeans, tobacco became one of the primary products fueling the colonization of the future American South, long before the creation of the United States. The initial colonial expansion, fueled by the desire to increase tobacco production, was one cause of the first colonial conflicts with Native Americans and became a driving factor for the use of African slave labor.

In 1609, John Rolfe arrived at the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. He is credited as the first man to successfully raise tobacco for commercial use at Jamestown. The tobacco raised in Virginia at that time, Nicotiana rustica (often referred to as Brown Gold), was not to the liking of the Europeans, but Rolfe had brought some seed for Nicotiana tabacum with him from Bermuda. Shortly after arriving, his first wife died, and he married Pocahontas, a daughter of Chief Powhatan. Tobacco was used as currency by the Virginia settlers for years, and Rolfe was able to make his fortune farming it for export at Varina Farms Plantation. When he left for England with Pocahontas, he was wealthy. When Rolfe returned to Jamestown following Pocahontas's death in England, he continued to improve the quality of tobacco. By 1620, 40,000 pounds of tobacco were shipped to England. By the time John Rolfe died in 1622, Jamestown was thriving as a producer of tobacco and Jamestown's population would top 4,000. Tobacco led to the importation of the colony's first black slaves in 1619. In the year 1616, 2,500 pounds of tobacco were produced in Jamestown, Virginia, quickly rising up to 119,000 pounds in 1620.

The importation of tobacco into Europe was not without resistance and controversy, even in the 17th century. King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) wrote a famous polemic titled A Counterblaste to Tobacco in 1604 (published in 1672). In his essay, the king denounced tobacco use as "[a] custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse." In that same year, an English statute was enacted that placed a heavy protective tariff on every pound of tobacco brought into England.

Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, tobacco continued to be the cash crop of the Virginia Colony, along with The Carolinas. Large tobacco warehouses filled the areas near the wharfs of new thriving towns such as Dumfries on the Potomac, Richmond and Manchester at the fall line (head of navigation) on the James, and Petersburg on the Appomattox.

Until 1883, tobacco excise tax accounted for one third of internal revenue collected by the United States government.

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