The first people to cultivate tobacco—and smoke it—were the Indians of North and South America. When Christopher Columbus and other early explorers came to America, they found the natives using tobacco in many ways. For example, they smoked a pipe to symbolize peace among them. The Indians also believed that tobacco had medicinal properties so they smoked to help protect themselves against disease.
Tobacco was first introduced into Europe in the sixteenth century because of the idea that it was medicinal. The tobacco pipe was introduced into Europe by Ralph Lane, the first governor of Virginia. In 1586, he brought an Indian pipe to Sir Walter Raleigh and taught him how to use it. By 1619, so many pipes were being made in London that the pipe makers of that city formed a guild.
Today, of course, most tobacco is smoked in the form of cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is also quite old. The early Spanish explorers found the natives in the West Indies and Mexico smoking cigarettes. In the West Indies they used a thin palm bark to wrap the tobacco, and in Mexico they used corn husks.
The first people to use paper for cigarettes were Spanish. Cigarette smoking spread throughout countries near the Mediterranean and Black seas, especially in those areas under Turkish influence. The English army, fighting in Crimea during 1854—1856, discovered Turkish cigarettes and brought them back to London. A few years later, the first cigarette factory was opened in London.
Who First Started Smoking Tobacco?
Tobacco was first discovered by the native people of Mesoamerica and South America and later introduced to Europe and the rest of the world.