Tobacco is a product made from the leaves of a variety of plants in the Nicotiana family, more commonly known as tobacco plants. This product has many uses, but it is most commonly used as a drug in products such as cigarettes and cigars. Tobacco contains approximately 0.6-8% of a substance known as nicotine, which is addictive and has a range of side effects. Smoking tobacco can also cause a number of health issues, which makes the widespread use of tobacco a concern. It is estimated that 1.1 billion people use some form of tobacco on a regular basis. The high demand for the tobacco means that it is now cultivated worldwide. The top producers of tobacco are China, India, Brazil and the United States.
Where did tobacco originate from?
We already know that processed tobacco comes from the tobacco plant, most commonly Nicotiana tabacum. Plants from the Nicotiana family originated from both North and South America, Australia, Africa and the South Pacific. However, the tobacco that is most commonly grown as a cash crop today originated in the Americas where it had long been cultivated and used by the native people. Christopher Columbus was the first European to be introduced to the plant on his first voyage to the New World. It was introduced to Europe not long after this time and from here the plant spread around the world and is now grown in many countries of the world as a cash crop.
Did you know?
The plant family Nicotiana and the word nicotine is named after Jean Nicot who brought tobacco seeds to Europe in 1560. He introduced snuff (tobacco that is inhaled) to the French court and from here the use of the product spread around Europe.