Origin & use
Though the properties associated with tobacco (a word taken from the now extinct Taino people of the Caribbean) had been already appreciated for many millennia in the Americas (it was used by the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas) where N. rustica was the favoured species of Central and Eastern America. Native American Indians smoked tobacco before hunting and during religious ceremonies, the smoking of the ‘peace pipe’ being an important ritual during political negotiations and were a noted feature of the discussions over European land acquisition.
Like other psychotropic drugs, most notably opium and alcohol, nicotine was regarded as a doorway into the supernatural world, a gift from the gods who provided them as a means of connecting the physical and spiritual worlds. from the earliest known times tobacco was taken in various ways, rolled into cigarettes and cigars, often mixed with other substances, ground into a powder and sniffed as snuff, chewed in plugs, eaten, drunk as an infusion, rubbed into the body, absorbed as an enema, or smoked in a pipe. As a form of relaxation it was a part of the social life of alehouses, coffee houses, gentleman’s clubs and the like which sometimes boasted a smoking lounge. The emergence of the cheap cigar and cigarette only eventuated in the 19th century. Tobacco consumption was associated with assorted rituals and accoutrements like snuff boxes, cigarette cases, expensive pipes, smoking jackets, and so on – tobacco etiquette included the temporary acceptance of sneezing, coughing, spitting, and discharge of phlegm. Countries developed their own distinctive kinds or blends of cigarettes so today we have distinctive French, Turkish, and Indonesian brands.