It would seem like cigarettes have been around forever wouldn’t it? For 1000s of years, people have been smoking with bongs, hookahs, and pipes, as well as chewing tobacco or snuffing tobacco. But just like anything, there had to be somebody discover or invent them and when it comes to the history of the cigarette, it is diverse.
The history of cigarettes starts with the Spanish that started rolling cigars. To be more exact, it was poor female workers as they rolled ‘cigaritos’, the smaller version of cigars. The French adopted the practice and changed the name to ‘cigarettes.’
With the colorful traditions and spiritual revelations, the history of tobacco is volatile, and so are the health concerns and regulations. Civilization and smoking are both ancient, but it would seem that tobacco has a control over the people on earth, not the other way around.
In the Ancient times, the belief is that it was the Asians that came across tobacco and discovered its magical properties. They would migrate and bring the tobacco with them to the Americas and with natural human curiosity being what it is, as American’s explored the world over 2000 years ago, the act of chewing tobacco would be discovered in the Andes Mountains.
Because a state of stupor would result from chewing the tobacco leaves, it quickly became a spiritual practice among people. In time, it was determined that there was medical use for tobacco and it would start being harvested. The Shamans used tobacco to spread fertility, peace, and prosperity, usually by smoking it with a pipe.
Ancient Egypt was another civilization of major size and far from the Americas, that discovered tobacco had mystical properties when it was smoked. It is believed that the Pharaohs would be the ones that started smoking in Egypt, along with incense for ceremonies and rituals.
Smoking also fascinated those in Ancient Europe, Ancient Greece and Rome even though tobacco had not been as common. Doctors and philosophers would use ingredients derived from tobacco such as marijuana, opium, and Valerian, using bone marrows and clay pipes as a device.
The Middle East and Southern Asia were known for smoking marijuana, but East Asia would smoke opium. All would use bongs, chillums, hookahs, and pipes, as their preferred methods for smoking. The Hookah was invented in Persia where they were seen as fine art pieces made of bamboo and coconuts.
During the Middle Ages in the Americas, there wasn’t much information exposed about smoking tobacco. It was in 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered a new land that smoking, and tobacco would be discovered as well, bringing light to the Dark Ages and creating the Age of Discovery. By 1531, the euphoric effects, considered satanic by some, the use of tobacco spread quickly, and it became a primary crop in Europe.
Doctors believed that tobacco had cleansing properties and would use as an analgesic and an antiseptic. Jean Nicot would introduce smoking to the French in 1560, where it is believed the word nicotine got its name.