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James Leavey's Corner
A History Of Tobacco

FORCES - Link to James Leavey's Corner Main Page
by James Leavey, editor, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in London
and The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland

(extract from Leavey's forthcoming book, The FOREST Guide to Smoking in Scotland, which will be published in summer 1998 by Quiller Press)


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James Leavey
3000 B.C.The Egyptians burnt sweet herbs and frankincense when sacrificing to their gods.

700-600 B.C. The Priestess of the Oracle at Delphi was said to have uttered her prophesies while drunk on the vapours that issued from a cleft in the rocks beneath her feet. Perhaps as a result, the Greeks began to offer incense on their altars.

At the beginning of the Christian era.According to the Roman scholar, Pliny the Elder (23-70 AD) in `Naturalis Historiae', the inhalation of smoke from burning hare's fur was prescribed as an exportant, the smoke from burning goat's horn used to diagnose epilepsy, and, for consumption, smoke inhaled (through a reed) of dried dung from an ox fed on grass.

It is commonly believed that the birthplace of tobacco, a plant belonging to the genus Nicotiana (especially Nicotiana Tabacum and Nicotiana Rustica, cultivated for their leaves to make cigarettes, cigars, cigars, snuff etc), was somewhere in the American continent. How and when it was first discovered is unknown.Perhaps a native, cooking food on a leaf over a fire noticed that it gave off a particularly appealing aroma, and took his or her first sniff.Then threw the food away and settled down to a serious smoke.

What is certain is that tobacco smoking was practised among the early Mayas, probably in the district of Tabasco, Mexico, as part of their religious ceremonies. While the Antonine Wall (named after the benevolent Roman emperor, Antoninus Pius, 86-161 AD) was being built between the Forth and Clyde rivers (the remains of it can still be seen there today), the cultivated inhabitants of southern Mexico were smoking crude cigarettes. They had no paper and wrapped their tobacco in palm leaves or corn husks, stuffed it into reed or bamboo, or rolled tobacco leaves into crude cigars.

Over the following centuries, tobacco smoking spread in the Mexico region and the Antilles.It was further spread when the smoker-friendly tribes dispersed northwards by way of the Mississippi Valley and, by sea, as far as Brazil.

Indians further north made pipes, some with a bowl and mouthpiece, others shaped like a Y, the forked extremities placed in the nostrils.They also blended their tobacco with other plants to vary its flavour or make it go further.

One Huron legend tells how, long before the coming of the white man, there was a great famine over the land.All the tribes came together in a council and called the Great Spirit Manitou for help. In answer, a beautiful and naked girl descended from the clouds.Leaning on her palms, she sat onthe ground before the people and announced that she was sent to bring food. This said she returned to the sky. Where her right palm had been, corn sprouted, and where her left palm had been, potatoes.But from where she sat tobacco appeared.

In South America, the Aztecs smoked and took snuff.Elsewhere in the American continent, tobacco was chewed, eaten, drunk as an infusion, or rubbed into the body.Certainly the use of tobacco was widespread long before the Europeans arrived to claim their `New World'.Montezuma II (1446-1520), the last Aztec Emperor of Mexico, is said to have smoked a ceremonial pipe after dinner.

Some historians claim that the Chinese invented the pipe and that Asians were smoking long before the Christian era, but they smoked grass and not tobacco which had never been grown anywhere but in the Americas before Columbus.

For Europeans at least, the tobacco story started on October 12 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed on an island called Guanahani by its inhabitants and which he named San Salvador.The natives told Columbus of another much larger island nearby and he immediately set sail, arriving off the Cuban coast on 28 October 1492.

Not knowing what to expect he sent two of his fellow-explorers, Rodriguo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, to scout the interior.In his log, Columbus reported that the two Spanish conquistadores met a large number of men and women, walking round "with a little lighted brand made from a kind of plant whose aroma it was their custom to inhale."

That same day, Rodriguo de Jereztook his first hesitant puff of the New World's early version of the cigar, its ring size estimated to be as big as a man's arm, and became the first European smoker in history.

When Columbus and his crew returned home with some tobacco leaves, Rodrigo, who'd taken to smoking a cigar every day, made the mistake of lighting up the unusual plant in public.He was promptly thrown into prison for three years by the Spanish Inquisition - the world's first victim of the anti-smokers.

1497.Romano Pane, the monk who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage (at the command of the Borgia, Pope Alexander VI), wrotethe first account of smoking,‘De insularium ribitus’, in Europe.

1512.Portugal was the first European country to cultivate tobacco outside of the Americas.By 1558, snuff was on sale in the markets of Lisbon.

1519. The Spanish conquistador and conqueror of Mexico, Hernando Cortes (1485-1547), found smoking practised among the Aztecs and, not necessarily as a result, proceeded to destroy their empire. Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes, an old acquaintance of Columbus, brings the first tobacco-leaves (and the hammock) to Europe, remarked in his ‘Historia general y natural de las Indias’: “I am aware that some Christians have already adopted the habit, especially those who have contracted syphilis, for they say that in the state of ecstasy caused by the smoke they no longer feel any pain…”

For years, it was believed that Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal had brought back the first plants to France from Lisbon in 1559 and offered them to the Cardinal of Lorraine for his gardens in Marmoustier. Recently, historians changed their mind and decided that in fact it was the revolutionary monk, Andre Thevet of Angouleme, who started bringing tobacco back from Brazil in 1556. Nicot has had the last laugh (or not, depending on your point of view), as his name lives on as nicotine, referred to in most dictionaries as "the addictive substance contained in tobacco."

1560approx. The tobacco plant was introduced into Holland from France.

1560approx. The tobacco plant arrived in Rome.

1565. Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595), the first English slave trader, who made three expeditions from Africa the Caribbean in the 1560s noted in his second voyage (I564-1565) the existence of smoking among the natives of Florida. Despite what is commonly believed, Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) did not introduce tobacco to England although he did popularise it in the court of Elizabeth I.At this point he was still a teenager and had not yet been to sea.Whoever was responsible for its introduction (and Hawkins is the most likely culprit), it was about this time that the first few specimens of tobacco arrived in England and smoked by the sea captains in the streets of London, to the great amazement of the crowds of people who collected to witness the strange sight.

1570. The tobacco plant was successfully grown in Germany and Switzerland and, as a medicinal herb, in Austria and Hungary.

1575. The use of tobacco was forbidden in the churches of Spanish America, although the congregation, then as now, continued to enjoy the vapours from incense.

1580 approx. Tobacco arrived for the first time in Turkey and Poland.

1585 approx.Sir Walter Raleigh, a heavy pipe smoker, was said to have been visited at his London home by William Shakespeare although there’s no record of the bard lighting up, either in person or in his plays.

In 1603, James VI, King of Scotland from 1567 and now James I of England, started Britain’s first anti-smoking campaign with his famous treatise, ‘A Counterblaste to Tobacco.’ The son of Mary, Queen of Scots, he ascended the throne of England on the death of Queen Elizabeth I.

At the same time, James I was in need of money and discovered how easy it was to tax imported tobacco.In 1608, he lowered the duty to one shilling, entrusting its collection to one of his lovers. In 1615, he made the import of tobacco a Royal monopoly, in open breach of the law as decisively stated in 1602, and farmed it out for a yearly rent of £14,000.

Meanwhile, English settlers in North America realised that there was money in growing tobacco for export.The first known commercial shipment to England in 1613 was ill-received, the Nicotiana rustica native to Virginia being decidely inferior to the tabacum from the Spanish plantations.

In Russia, Michael Feodorovich (1596-1645), the first Romanov Czar, declared tobacco use a deadly sin and forbade possession for any purpose.A Tobacco Court was established to try breaches of the law, its usual punishments were slitting of the lips, or a terrible and sometimes deadly, flogging.Occasionally, offenders were castrated or, if they were rich, exiled to Siberia and their property confiscated.

A few years later, in Turkey, Persia and India, the death penalty was prescribed as a cure for the habit.

1616. The Swiss started smoking. Virginia sent 3,000 pounds of tobacco to London, compared with 53,000 Spanish pounds.Two years later, Virginia was sending 19,000 pounds.By 1620, this had increased to 25,000 pounds and the colonists had made both mercantile and political allies in England. Effort was soon diverted from the suppression to the promotion of Virginia tobacco, at the expense of the Spanish.

In 1618, Raleigh, who discovered and founded the tobacco colony of Virginia in America, smoked his last pipe just before he went to the executioner’s block. Some say it was still in his mouth when his head got lopped off.

In 1619, James I tightened his Royal monopoly by prohibiting the cultivation of tobacco around London.The following year, he extended the prohibition to the rest of England.

James I's son, Charles I, shared his father's dislike of tobacco and would allow none of his courtiers to enjoy it in his presence.But he was also too short of money to pick and choose, and continued the monopoly.In 1633, he added the licensing of retailers.

1618-1648. The popularity of pipe smoking was increased and spread by the Thirty Years War.

1620 approx.Japan banned smoking for the first time.Today, it has one of the highest numbers of adult smokers in the world, and one of the lowest incidents of lung cancer, similar to Greece.Does anybody want to find out why"

1622 onwards.A growing number of writers praised tobacco as a universal remedy to mankind’s ills; which is almost as daft as today’s ill-informed anti-smokers blaming most of them on it.

1629.France’s Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), always on the lookout for fresh sources of revenue, placed a tax on smoking.

1630. . Sweden learned to smoke but it was too late for the Vikings who no doubt would have enjoyed lighting up after all that raping and pillaging between the late 8th and mid-11th centuries.

1642. Pope Urban VIII issued a Papal Bull against smoking in the churches of Seville (so what about all the others, then").

1648. Anti-smoking increased throughout Europe and most writers were now hostile to it, which proves there’s nothing new in this world.

1650.The Austrians lit up for the first time.Pope Innocent V issued a Papal Bull against smoking in St Peter’s, Rome.

1657. The Swiss added the prohibition of tobacco to the Ten Commandments, probably because they couldn’t see where they’re skiing and it’s made the cuckoos in their clocks cough.

1659.The republic of Venice founded the first tobacco appalto (a brilliant financial monopoly; much imitated in other countries).

The growing popularity of tobacco led to the appalling spread of black slavery, most of them seized in Africa and shipped across the Atlantic to work on the large-scale cultivation of the aromatic plant, enabling Virginia and Maryland to expand their exports sixfold between 1663 and 1699.

Smoking was lauded as a preventive of the bubonic plague, or Black Death, which made its last and most celebrated appearance in London in 1665-1666, claiming an estimated 70,000 lives from a population of just under half a million.

In his diary of 7th June 1965, Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) recorded: "This day, much against my Will, I did in Drury-lane see two or three houses marked with a red cross upon the doors, and `Lord have mercy upon us' writ there - which was a sad sight to me, being the first of that kind that to my remembrance I ever saw.It put me into an ill conception of myself and my smell, so that I was forced to buy some roll-tobacco to smell and to chew, which took away the apprehension."

Meanwhile, boys at Eton College were told to smoke a pipe every morning to ward off the plague.One of them later told Thomas Hearne, the antiquarian, how he was flogged when the masters found he was not smoking his daily ration.

1689-1725. Russian Tsar Peter the Great took up and publicly supported smoking.

1699. France’s Louis XIV and his physician, Fagon, opposed smoking. Snuff-taking spread, probably because it was comparatively discreet and no one would know unless they hear you sneeze. The Portuguese introduced smoking into India, Eastern Asia and Japan.

1701-1740.The first two Kings of Prussia, Frederick I and Frederick William I, who were both great pipe smokers, held the first ‘tobacco parties ’ in Court, which later evolved into a Tobacco Club whose chief business was ‘smoking’.In 1735, Frederick William I and his friend Stanislaus, the ex-King of Poland, often smoked over 30 pipes between them from five in the afternoon until two the next morning.

By the late 17th century, smoking had spread to Scotland and across the sea to Ireland.Tobacco smuggling was rife as a result of taxation by money-hungry monarchs.

1706. Switzerland decided to unban smoking.Oddly enough the country’s alpine snow is still white, not yellow from nicotine stains.

Back home, Glasgow was several hundred miles closer to America than any English port, and the chronic state of war that existed between Britain and much of Europe during the 18th century meant that the Scottish burgh was safer than Bristol. By the 1720s, Glasgow was importing over a half of all the American tobacco brought into Britain and by 1804 the city’s population had risen to over 70,000, her growth founded upon a new trade – the import and re-export of tobacco from the American colonies.

At one time, Glasgow’s tobacco trade was so successful that its English competitors (Liverpool, Bristol, Whitehaven etc) banded together to raise a legal action claiming unfair competition.When it failed they took their case to Parliament.

The dramatic growth in the tobacco trade provided the impetus for developing Glasgow itself as a great port rather than relying on Port Glasgow many miles further down the Clyde.This led to the establishment of shipbuilding and engineering and the prosperity that followed made Glasgow the industrial centre of Scotland.The Clyde became the natural place to build great liners, such as the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth and the QE2. For a time, Glasgow was known as ‘The Second City of the British Empire’ – and it was mostly due to tobacco.

Meanwhile, in 1725, Pope Benedict XIII issued an edict allowing snuff-taking, even in St Peter’s.

1731.John Cockburn was the first Englishman to smoke a cigar, while marooned on the shores of Honduras.There’s no record of the first Scot.

1775-1783. In Glasgow, a group of self-made men who cornered the tobacco trade between America and Europe became popularly known as the Tobacco Lords. They were a tightly-knit group often linked by blood and marriage, who owned estates on the other side of the Atlantic and paid for the tobacco by sending over goods of all kinds. All of their plantations and tobacco businesses was taken over by the revolutionaries in the American War of Independence except for William Cunninghame, who shrewdly bought up all his colleagues’ stock, worth threepence a pound, for sixpence a pound, and later sold it for three shillings and sixpence a pound, making a vast profit - which helped sustain his memory over the centuries.

Across the English Channel, the Italian adventurer and great lover, Casanova (1725-1798), was one of the first Europeans to smoke cigarettes, as recorded in his memoirs.In London's coffee houses, without a proper introduction, most people tended to ignore each other (as they still do, in the capital’s pubs and cafes, unlike those in Scotland).Words were only exchanged, then as now, for essential purposes and anything beyond this was met with suspicion.For many, smoking helped to break down this reserve.

There were several ancestors of the cigar's poorer cousin, the cigarette, some of them now difficult to recognise, but most shared the common feature of being smaller and cheaper than cigars and hand-wrapped in paper.

According to reports of missionaries and travellers, hand-rolled cigarettes were known in the middle of the 18th century in South America, especially in Brazil where they were called papelitos.

Hand-rolled cigarettes come into circulation in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars of 1792-1815, but it was not until after the Crimean War (1856) that the cigarette was widely circulated in Europe via the various participating armies (Turkish, English, French and Piedmontese) who found it far cheaper to roll their own cigarettes than to buy ready made cigars.

Napoleon I (1769-1821) had no use for smoking but this didn’t stop him consuming seven pounds of snuff a month.He owned countless snuff-boxes including one with a portrait of his beloved Josephine on the lid. Mortified when it broke he begged her to send him another box containing a lock of her hair.

Snuff-taking was introduced from France and made fashionable in English society by the Regency rake, dandy and wit, Beau Brummel (1778-1840). The manufacture of snuff was a complex, tedious and difficult undertaking and is now a dying art.In 18th century Scotland, the habit of snuff taking became almost universal; it was said that every second Scotsman snuffed. It was (and is still is) certainly true that every Scots man and woman eventually ‘snuffed it’ at the end of their lives, whether they snuffed, or not.

The snuff box introduced from France was of papier-mache and though light in weight, was shallow, of an awkward shape, and had no means of fastening the lid securely and so its contents were often spilled in the pocket.

Scotsmen began to use the horn of a cow or ram (rarely that of a deer) and closed the opening with a leather plug.Then a hinged lid was invented, the inner part of which was a tight-fitting cork.This was mounted in silver and embellishes with the national emblem.The box was called a mull.

The careful Scot was fond of pewter as a material for his snuff box as it did not cost much and wore well.A favourite form was one made from a small hoof and furnished with a pewter rim and lid.Boxes of this kind were made by a Scottish craftsman called Durie.

About 1820, wooden snuff boxes with a hinge that enabled to lid to be closed tightly began to be made at Laurencekirk.They werethe invention of Mr Stiven and proved so highly popular that they were successfully imitated at Auchinleck, Cumnock and Mauchline, in Ayrshire.

After a brief period when pipe smoking was unfashionable, the smoking habit was revived with the growing European demand for cigars. Sevillas, as the Spanish home-grown cigars were called, were superseded by those from the then Spanish colony, Cuba, boosted by King Ferdinand VII of Spain's decree in 1821, which encouraged the production of Cuban `sticks'.

1830. The first Cuban segars (as they were then known) arrived in London at the shop of Robert Lewis in St James's Street.Great (as it was then) Britain’s first cigar divan, Simpson's-in-the-Strand opened in London, two years later.

Over the next few decades, Europe's trains introduced smoking carriages, hotels set aside smoking lounges for their guests and smoking jackets and velvet tasselled smoking hats became de rigeur for gentlemen smokers. The after-dinner cigar, enjoyed with a glass of port or brandy by gentlemen who left the female diners to their own devices, became an established tradition.

European women had in fact developed an early taste for smoking.The French writer, George Sand, while living with Chopin in the mid-1800s, loved to shock her guests by lighting up a cigar after breakfast.

From the 1830s, English and Scottish smokes were lit by the `phosphorus' or `lucifer' match, followed by Vestas, Vesuvians, Flamers and Fuzees. Their wholesale cost was recorded by Henry Mayhew, a founder of Punch magazine and famous social recorder of Victorian London's poor, at four and a half pence per thousand.

The first commercially produced cigarettes were manufactured in France in 1843 by the State-run Manufacture Francaise des Tabacs.The first consignment of 20,000 cigarettes were sold at a charity bazaar organised by Queen Marie-Amelie in Paris that year.

The French Emperor, Napoleon III (1808-1873) helped to popularise the cigarette in France, his own consumption of them running to what was then thought the remarkable number of 50 a day.He so entirely lacked his uncle's disregard for the lives of others that he could only bear to watch his battles by chain smoking throughout.

Across the Channel in 19th century England, lighter varieties of tobacco were tried, including the `Turkish' variety, before British taste settled on Virginians.

When the first cigarettes (of poor quality) were introduced into London’s clubs by British officers they were met at first with strong opposition.By the 1860s, the manufacturers started using better tobacco and a finer sort of paper to roll it in and cigarettes found favour throughout Europe.

The first tobacconists known to have stocked cigarettes were Messrs H Simmons of Piccadilly and Bacon Bros. of Cambridge, who were pursuing this line of business by 1851.

The world’s first factory to produce cigarettes by mass-production methods was established in Havana, Cuba, by Don Luis Susini, who abandoned hand-rolling for steam-driven machines in 1853.

The first branded cigarettes manufactured in Britain were Sweet Threes, launched around 1859 by Robert Peacock Gloag, the proprietor of a small factory in Deptford Lane, south London. Gloag had been paymaster to the Turkish forces during the Crimean War (1853-1856), which was largely responsible for the popularity of the cigarette in England.

The first brand of cigarettes to be sold in cardboard packets of the modern ‘push up’ (since replaced by the ‘flip over top’) kind was Wills’ Three Castles, in 1892.Formerly, cigarette packets were generally made of paper and the contents easily crushed.In May 1931, Craven A was the first brand of cigarettes to be sold in cellophane-wrapped packets.

In 1865, the Austrian Regie introduced the ‘double cigarette’.It was about three times as long as today’s more familiar version, had a mouthpiece at either end and was cut into two before it was lit up. It proved immensely popular and the following year 16 million were sold in Austria, before they made way for the single cigarette of finer quality. That same year, Prosper Merimee’s Carmen became the first woman in fiction to smoke cigarettes – she also sold them.

A Wills factory was set up in Bristol in 1871 and the Player's factory in Nottingham in 1888.The memorist, Lord Frederick Hamilton, recorded that before the 1870s, when cigarettes were despised and "a pipe was unspeakably vulgar", he saw nothing smoked except cigars.

"I am certain of one thing," he wrote in `Before Yesterday', "it is to the cigarette that the temperate habits of the twentieth century are due. Nicotine knocked port and claret out in the second round."

The example of cigarette smoking set in London was imitated in North America where the manufacture and sale of cigarettes became one of the USA’s most important industries - long after the cigarette had made a successful tour of Europe via South America.

The first cigarette cards appeared in America early in the 1880s, reaching Britain about ten years later.The first US manufacturers were a firm called Alan and Ginter, while the first in the UK was a cigarette manufacturer with the brand name of Glove.In most cases the cards ran in sets of 50.

For the next half century or so, thousands of non-smoking children, mostly boys, built up collections of cigarette cards scrounged from their parents either by swapping duplicates for others they needed to complete a series, or flicking a card at cards against a wall.The first child to hit a card took all three plus all those that had missed and lay on the pavement.

Cigarette coupons were first given away with Kinnear's Handicap Cigarettes c1901, and entitled winners to a free week in Paris.The first firm to give merchandise in exchange for coupons was Ogden's.Cigarette coupons ceased during World War I, were revived by Black Cat in 1926, banned in 1933, and brought back by Kensitas in 1956.

It was also in 1901 that Great Britain’s anti-smoking monarch, Queen Victoria, was succeeded by her son, Edward VII, a great smoker who was ticked off by his late mother when she caught him lighting up in Buckingham Palace. Victoria tried smoking in the 1870s in the gardens of Balmoral to ward off the midges, during a picnic with Princess Beatrice and another lady companion.

1908Selling cigarettes to under 16s in Britain became illegal.

In every age since its first introduction, every major war has invariably been followed by an enormous increase in the smoking of tobacco. The First World War (1914-1918) was no exception and by the time it reached its bloody conclusion, if there were any among all the millions of soldiers who were non-smokers when it began, there were virtually none by the time it was over.

The officers in command recognised the value of smoking as a means of deadening the enlisted men’s susceptibilities to the fearful strain to which they were constantly exposed, as well as of mitigating the danger of periods of enforced idleness.For the soldier, the cigarette became a panacea to the stresses of war (and afterwards, life in general) and every effort was made to ensure its constant supply.

General Pershing, the commander-in-chief of the American troops in France, cabled to Washington: "Tobacco is as indispensable as the daily ration; we must have thousands of tons of it without delay.”

When the surviving hosts of military smokers returned to their homes, the habit of smoking increased enormously in all the combatant countries.The world's output of tobacco, before the war estimated at one and a half milliard kilogrammes, rose by 1928 to two and a half milliards.

By 1930, tobacco had triumphed and Count Corti declared: "(A) glance at the statistics proves convincingly that the (non-smokers) are but a feeble and ever-dwindling minority.The hopeless nature of their struggle becomes plain when we remember that all countries, whatever their form of government, now encourage and facilitate the passion for smoking in every conceivable way, merely for the sake of the revenue which it produces..."

Corti anticipated neither the hostility of the National Socialists or the medical claims of the next seven decades.Far from being a dwindling minority, the non-smokers became a growing majority of at least British and American adults over the next 66 years.

Nevertheless, for a time after World War II smoking was prescribed by doctors as soothing to the nerves.Perhaps it was this in mind that Britain ’s Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced tobacco coupons for pensioners in his 1947 budget.These were discontinued in 1958.

In 1962 the first Royal College of Physicians Report, ‘Smoking and Health’ was published and recommended restrictions on tobacco advertising, sales to children, smoking in public places, increased taxation, and information on tar/nicotine content.The UK’s sales of tobacco dropped for the first time in a decade.

In 1965, The British Government consulted with the Independent Television Authority and banned tobacco advertising on TV.A few years earlier, the classic example of an advertising flop on British television was the commercial for Strand cigarettes in which a young man in a trenchcoat, hat on the back of his head, roamed the streets at night, his solitary figure beneath the street lamps where he paused to light a cigarette.An award-winning favourite with viewers and the advertising world, the commercial’s theme tune was even issued on record.Its famous slogan, ‘You’ re never alone with a Strand’, can still be remembered by many people today, including non-smokers - the trouble was it failed to sell sufficient cigarettes and the brand died.

In 1971, Rank Leisure was the first of Britain’s major chains to introduce no-smoking seating in most of its cinemas.

By the mid-1990s after the gradual introduction of anti-smoking measures such as the mushrooming of ‘no smoking’ signs in cinemas, theatres, shops and other public meeting places – mainly to avoid paying the increased insurance premiums levied against smokers, cigarettes and pipes were in decline.

This didn’t stop the sales of fine cigars (ie hand-rolled and made from pure unadulterated tobacco – mainly from Cuba and the Dominican Republic) getting a huge boost first in the USA and then Europe by the launch of a new American magazine, Cigar Aficionado, responding to the world’s expanding mountain of disposable income looking for new luxuries to spend itself on.

By early 1998, the number of British adult smokers had dropped to just 15 million, only slightly less than a third of the population and the biggest and mostly overlooked‘minority’ in the UK.

Copyright James Leavey, 1998.All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the Author.

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