Tobacco began spreading through Europe during the 16th century quickly becoming the vice of many, but also transforming into what people thought was a cure for many illnesses. King James I was the first to put a tax on tobacco, while King Louis XIV was the first to regulate the distribution of the crop. Overall, the efforts to limit the consumption of tobacco for medicinal purposes failed all over Europe once world leaders discovered its deathly side effects. In Turkey the consequence for smoking in public was a beheading, while in countries such as Russia and Austria, one could be fined, jailed, and tortured. King James I of England wrote about tobacco’s addictive properties and the sustained damage to the lungs that resulted from long time use.
Tobacco’s history, however, has not always been so grim. When it was first discovered on American soil, Columbus and other colonists wrote personal accounts of seeing Indians smoking ‘dried leaves through a y-shaped tube’. It was closely observed that this crop was easy to grow, trade, and use for personal enjoyment.
The tobacco economy in the early colonies was a cycle of leaf demand, slave labor demand, a global industry that eventually led to the rise of the Chesapeake Consignment system, which means American tobacco farmers would sell their sell their crops to merchants in London but still retain ownership until t...
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... an abundance to those who remained loyal customers.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that more and more evidence began to surface that tobacco was linked to lung cancer as well as other harsh diseases such as emphazema, heart disease, etc. AD’s for tobacco were removed from store windows and television commercials and were quickly replaced with anti-smoking campaigns and warnings stating that tobacco use in any form could very well lead to the development of these harsh diseases. Today tobacco is the leading killer in the United States and has remained so for a number of decades.
In conclusion, tobacco has been an extreme asset and an extreme detriment to society, and still remains so today. The boost it has given our economy to remains while the harsh pollution, health concerns, and costly production continues to be a steady issue in our nation and around the world.
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