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, snus etc, was somewhere in the American continent. How and when it was first discovered is unknown.
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 was being built between the Forth and Clyde rivers, the cultivated inhabitants of southern Mexico were smoking crude cigarettes.
In South America, the Aztecs smoked and took snus. Elsewhere on 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, 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.
Romano Pane, the monk who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage at the command of the Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, wrote the first account of smoking, ‘De insularium ribitus’, in Europe.
Portugal was the first European country to cultivate tobacco outside of the Americas.
Snuff was on sale at the markets of Lisbon.
In 1638 returned one of the boats to Stockholm after a voyage to the Swedish colony at the mouth of the Delaware Bay. The ship carried tobacco, which would soon become a large-scale commodity on the Swedish market.
France’s Louis XIV and his physician, Fagon, opposed smoking. Oral snus-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.
Pope Benedict XIII issued an edict allowing oral snus-taking, even in St Peter’s.
Napoleon I had no use for smoking but this did not stop him from consuming seven pounds of oral snus a month. He owned countless oral snus-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.
Swedes first started tucking snus snus, known in Sweden as Swedish snus, under the lip at the end of the 1700s
Jacob Fredrik Ljunglöf started manufacturing snus. Ljunglöf was obsessed by the thought of improving the quality of snus. A key factor to success was to find a way to vastly shorten the production time. A few years later, he acquired the widely used quality standard, Number One, as his trademark. His product became known as Ettan (Number One). He did not use any flavourisers and thus gave Ettan the taste of pure tobacco, salt and water.
The Swedish Parliament was in need of money to the national defence and to the first pension reform, and that was why a state monopoly on the entire production of tobacco goods was made. This monopoly took over more than 103 brands of snus.
The Swedish tobacco monopoly was dissolved and Svenska Tobaks AB overtook the snus and snus production. Today it is known as Swedish Match. Because of the monopoly Swedish Match have today 95% market share of a market worth 500 million Euro.
The first portion-packed snus was launched and it was an important step for the snus to reach a wider clientele.
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