A Chronology of Events in the Civilized World on Tobacco

When Columbus discovered America members of his expedition became the first Europeans to witness the - to them - curious habit of smoking tobacco.

1492- Columbus Discovers Tobacco. In his journal, Columbus mentions tobacco for the first time. Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres first observe the native smoking ritual and try it themselves. Jerez becomes the first smoker of western decent.

1556- Tobacco use spreads to the old world through Spain and Portugal. The plant that grew from these seeds is christened Nicotina tabacura by Linnaeus, thereby immortalizing Jean Nicot's name. Later the addictive alkaloid is called nicotine.

1548 - The Portuguese begin to grow tobacco for export in Brazil.

1770 - The first tobacco shop is established in Lancaster.

1826 - England is importing only 26 lbs of cigars per year. By 1830, England is importing 250,000 lbs per year.

1847 - Philip Morris is open for business in England. They sell hand rolled Turkish cigarettes.

1854 - Philip Morris begins making its own cigarettes in London, on Bond Street

1881 - James E. Bonsack invents the automated cigarette-making machine. It can produce 200 cigarettes per minute, a production rate which would have previously taken 50 workers, thereby markedly reducing the cost of production. Within one year the largest cigarette manufacturer sells more than a billion cigarettes annually.

1832 - The cigarette is invented by an Egyptian artilleryman during the siege of Acre. The Egyptian's cannon crew had improved their rate of fire by rolling the gunpowder in paper tubes. For this, he and his crew were rewarded with a pound of tobacco. Their only pipe was broken, so they took to rolling the pipe tobacco in the paper tubes.

1864 - First American cigarette factory opens and produces almost 20 million cigarettes annually.

1875 - Allen & Ginter cigarette brands, Richmond Straight Cut No. 1 and Pet, begin using picture cards to stiffen the pack and protect the cigarettes. The cards, with photos of actresses, baseball players, Indian Chiefs, and boxers are enormously successful and represent the first modern promotion scheme for a manufactured product.

1901 - 3.5 billion cigarettes and 6 billion cigars are sold. Four in five American men smoke at least one cigar a day.

1902 - Tiny Philip Morris sets up a corporation in New York to sell its British brands, including Philip Morris, Blues, Cambridge, Derby, and a cigarette named after Marlborough Street, where its London factory is located. Marlboro is one of the earliest woman's cigarettes, featuring a red tip to hide lipstick marks. It does not catch on with the public.

1910 - Most popular brands: Pall Mall, Sweet Caporals, Piedmont, Helmar and Fatima.

1913 - RJ Reynolds introduces Camel, considered by historians as the first 'modern' cigarette.

1917 - During World War I cigarettes become the smoke of choice as pipes and cigars prove unmanageable at the front. Between 1910 and 1919 cigarette production increases by 633% from under 10 billion/year to nearly 70 billion/year and cigarette smoking begins to become fixed among American men. The American Red Cross and the Young Men's Christian Association, previously opposed to the propagation of cigarettes, actively supply them to the troops overseas.

1921 - RJ Reynolds spends $8 million in advertising, mostly on Camel. Inaugurates the highly successful "I'd Walk a Mile for a Camel" slogan.

1924 - Philip Morris re-introduces Marlboro with the slogan "Mild as May," targeting "decent, respectable" women. "Has smoking any more to do with a woman's morals than has the color of her hair?" the advertisement reads. "Marlboros now ride in so many limousines, attend so many bridge parties, and repose in so many handbags."

1927 - A sensation is created when George Washington Hill blatantly aims Lucky Strike advertising campaign at women, urging them to "reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet." Smoking initiation rates among adolescent females triple between 1925-1935, and Lucky Strike captures 38% of the American market.

1936 - Brown and Williamson introduce Viceroy, the first national brand to feature a filter of cellulose acetate. Advertising increases the use of physicians to counter the claims that cigarettes are a major health problem.

1940 - Adult Americans smoke 2,558 cigarettes per capita a year, nearly twice the consumption of 1930

1945 - Smoking is now socially acceptable for women. Another generation of Americans is now habituated to tobacco as a result of free cigarettes distributed by the Red Cross and other organizations to our fighting men and women.

1952 - Kent introduces the 'Micronite' filter, which Lorillard claims "offers the greatest health protection in cigarette history." It turns out to be made of asbestos. Kent discontinues use of the Micronite filter four years later.

1954 - RJ Reynolds:- introduces:- Winston:- filter cigarettes, but promotes the taste benefit, not health. Winston dominates the US market for the next 15 years.

1954 - Marlboro advertising taken over by the Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett. "Delivers the Goods on Flavor" ran the new slogan in newspaper ads. Design of the campaign, which features 'Marlboro Men,' is credited to John Landry of Philip Morris. Prior to initiating this campaign, Marlboro had <1% of the US market.

1963 – Marlboro dispenses with tattooed sailors and athletes as the Marlboro Man and settles on the exclusive use of cowboys. For several years, Philip Morris research had shown that sales increased whenever they cowboys appeared in their campaigns.

1964 - Marlboro Country ad campaign is launched. "Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro Country." Marlboro sales begin growing at 10% a year.

1968 - Philip Morris introduces Virginia Slims with the slogan, "You've come a long way, baby." Five yeas later, Billy Jean King, wearing Virginia Slims colors, defeats Bobby Riggs in the televised 'Battle of the Sexes.' Virginia Slims continues to promote tennis matches to this day.

1972 - Marlboro becomes the best-selling cigarette in the world. It remains so today by a wide margin.

1999 - About 10 million Americans smoke cigars.

2002 - CDC estimates smoking health and productivity costs reach $150 billion a year, according to a new study published in this week's WMMR. CDC estimated the total cost of smoking at $3,391 a year for every smoker, and even itemized the per-pack health/productivity costs at $7.18/pack. Further, it estimated the smoking-related medical costs at $3.45 per pack, and job productivity lost because of premature death from smoking at $3.73 per pack.

Current campaign

Fire-safe cigarette legislation has been passed or introduced in many states. To maintain regulatory uniformity, all states and countries are using the "model" FSC regulatory bill based on the New York FSC law. With identical fire safety regulations for cigarettes in all states and countries, cigarette manufacturers can voluntarily produce FSC worldwide. Until then, legislative campaigns mandating FSC will continue.


By stelu Barbu
Published: 2/27/2008