The Origin and Growth of a Habit
What a blessing this smoking is ! perhaps the greatest that we owe to the discovery of America.
SIR ARTHUR HELPS
As BEFITS THE subject, the origin of the smoking habit appears shrouded in the myths of history. Archaeological work in Mexico has suggested that the tobacco plant played a great part in religious ceremonies among the Mayans before the beginning of our era. Over five hundred years ago the habit spread over the whole of Mexico and to the Red Indians and the South American Indians as well. Tobacco was consumed in various ways by smoking, chewing and as snuff; smoking was done not only by means of pipes and cigars but also by means of paper tubes some 3 or 4 inches in length known as cigarros or papelitos; these as well as the cigars and cigarettes which later became fashionable in Europe had a much greater nicotine content than do the smokes of our own time, and it seems miraculous that any human being could have been attracted to such very powerful drugs.
The discovery of America by Columbus in 1492 marks the beginning of the gradual subjugation of Europe to the tobacco plant. The form this conquest has taken has often been determined by rather curious circumstances. Thus in France, where tobacco was introduced in the second half of the sixteenth century, tobacco was not smoked but taken as snuff. The reason appears to be that Nicot, who was French Ambassador at the Portuguese court from 1559 to 1561, had sent some tobacco to