The Evolution of Tobacco in American Civilization
Tobacco, one of America's largest industries. From the very beginning of its introduction to society up until this very moment tobacco has been deeply rooted in the lives of Americans and continues to grab more and more every day. At one point tobacco use was a rite of passage now it is a silent killer. Every year restrictions on advertisement, sale, use, location of tobacco gets stricter. This plant has evolved through society causing some very long studies and debates over the safety and usage of tobacco. In this essay, I will be breaking down how tobacco evolved in American society and the causes of this evolution.
The first topic that needs to be covered is tobaccos origin. Where did this “Demon plant” come from? Well the answer isn't exactly crystal clear however it is said that Mayans first recorded tobacco use in 600-900 A.D. The first record of tobacco in the United States was Jamestown, VA in 1612 where it was first grown as a cash crop. From this growth in America tobacco began to spread overseas and became extremely popular in the middle east. In America tobacco became one of the top 3 cash crops. In the beginning most uses of tobacco was in pipes and cigars as cigarettes were not invented until 1865 in England. This tobacco they used was untreated, and simply dried so it did not have the tar, arsenic, and 4000 other chemicals like the tobacco of today. Tobacco was a huge trading piece in America with both Native Americans in demand as well as foreign trade ships from around the world. America became famous in these beginnings of tobacco because of how much they produced and how it offered a “stress reliever” to the laborers of the times. It was the first substance besides alcohol that was used as a relaxant for the working class which is why it spread so fast. This was revolutionary, it became a social standard to smoke, most if not all men smoked cigars and pipes as a type of comradery. As tobacco became more and more established in America it became a trade to blend types of tobacco for certain flavor profiles that pair well with food, drink, atmosphere. Tobacco eventually became a skilled trade and the job market for tobacco grew steadily in America. The beginning of tobacco in civilization was quick, it started isolated in central America and like wildfire spread throughout the settlements of early America. It quickly became a dominant feature in America's economy as well as the world economy.
Americas Economy began because of cash crops one of the major ones was Tobacco. From a discovery in central in America tobacco has become a multibillion dollar industry that brings in enormous amounts of taxes for the state and federal government. From its discovery tobacco has had a firm hold on civilization, containing an addictive substance called Nicotine people all over the globe have been becoming addicted to it since its conception. In 2015 the United States alone had over 264 Billion cigarettes were sold which is a huge amount considering the huge movement to have Americans quit smoking. 1794 was when these tobacco products were first taxed, in 2010 the U.S. Government made 15.5 Billion in revenue from the taxation on tobacco products. To this day tobacco products remain a huge money maker for the country. When first marketed to Americans in the revolutionary war tobacco was seen as harmless, it was a cheap, and effective stress reliever for a dangerous time in the country where money was tight, and the war was everywhere for the colonists. Tobacco is a key piece of the American economy, since its beginning its made the country money. The tobacco economy stayed pretty much the same from the revolutionary war up until taxes began in 1794 then less people bought the products because of financial depression the country was going through. However tobacco is still one of the highest revenue crops America has. Around early 1900 the industry began to change with the invention of communication over radio, television, billboards, etc. More and more people were using tobacco as a stress reliever or as a sign of social status. It was exploding all over the country tobacco products were beginning to be sold more and more every year. At this point in tobaccos history no one knew the negative effects of tobacco use and it was normal, and accepted for citizens of all ages even minors to smoke cigarettes. Around 1950 studies came out showing the terrible effects of tobacco use such as cancer, it was then that Americans started moving away from tobacco. The industry saw a noticeable decline in sales as more and more people were quitting, laws were put into effect to stop minors from purchasing cigarettes. The economy took a sizable hit from this motion and to this day Americans continue to try and quit using tobacco. However from the figures I have already provided it is easy to see that the industry is actually still growing despite legal ages being raised, and advertisement techniques banned. This market is so deeply rooted in America that it simply has become a piece of the economy and civilization. Now with e-cigarette devices being used as a healthier nicotine delivery system the tobacco market is seeing more and more decline in sales which could eventually lead to the complete removal of the product due to severe profit loss but that is a long time away if at all possible. The addictive properties of nicotine keep smokers coming back to buy more which keeps this market alive, and subsequently fuels the American government as they receive a large amount of revenue from the taxes of tobacco, so besides age and marketing restriction the American government is doing little to nothing in order to help people quit smoking due to the payoff they receive from the companies. However the tobacco industry does create a fair amount of jobs for Americans and it is good source of income for manual laborers, however they are some of the first to become addicted and spread the habit to friends which helps gain more lifetime addicted customers. Tobacco, as dangerous as it is, has deeply woven itself into American civilization and will be almost impossible to remove from the economy at this point.
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