The Story of Tobacco Usage

Tobacco has been evolutionized over the past two thousand years but for the worst. Native Americans would smoke the tobacco plant as celebration and tradition. Then European settlers came and traded with the natives. Now tobacco has been modified to different forms of use like chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and even electronic cigarettes. Now tobacco is more addictive because of how enhanced tobacco companies have made the chemicals. As a result there are many health defects that are life threatening to people that use and the people around them.

The Native Americans originally started using the tobacco plant and other plants as a part of tradition. They use the leaf for celebrations or for medicinal reasons. They would give it to people to boost their spiritual, emotional and even physical wellbeing. It was used to relax and calm the nerves for those who were worried or in stress. This could also be used as a gift that showed respect and loyalty. Tobacco was a huge component in their traditions. Then they started to trade it with the European settlers like the well-known Christopher Columbus. At first the Europeans were very confused what they would do with the gift; then Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres started to give interest in smoking the plant. They came back to Spain and surprised everyone as the exponential amount of smoke left their mouths when they breathed out. People were so shocked that the Holy Inquisition came and arrested Jerez for seven years for sorcery. Shortly after his release, everyone started the habit of smoking, and it became very common.

In 1865, the first commercialized cigarette was made by Washington Duke of North Carolina. They were a small business at first that would hand roll their product and sell to soldiers. Then in 1881, a cigarette making machine was invented by James Bonsack. Cigarettes were not used a lot until the early twentieth century. People use to think that the smoke would clean your lungs and kept your body cleansed. Sadly they were very incorrect, and the use of tobacco now can be life-threatening.  

Nicotine is the addictive chemical that is in tobacco and tobacco products. Nicotine can have some positive effects on the brain like stimulation and can relate to treatments to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ADHD. This is only from the chemical nicotine; the use of tobacco through cigarette smoke is too life threatening to help with brain function. Smoking is said to be the most preventable cause of death in the United States; that is above obesity, alcohol, traffic collisions, firearms, and other drug abuse. Over 480,000 deaths each year are caused from cigarettes. Chewing tobacco can be even worse than smoking tobacco. It causes gum disease, tooth decay, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancer.

Now the younger generations use electronic cigarettes or vapes like the JUUL. This contains even more nicotine than cigarettes but has a smaller chance of major illnesses due to the lack of smoke you get from other tobacco products. People like to say vapes and e-cigarettes are “safer,” but they are just replacing an old habit with a new one.

We are being raised with the education of knowing the dangers of commercial tobacco. In North Carolina, it is required by most school systems that they educate their children about the effects of drugs and alcohol, including tobacco. The use of tobacco and the possession of tobacco is banned on school grounds even for the teachers.

Overall tobacco is very dangerous and will cause health issues that can lead to more serious illnesses like cancer and possible death. Everyone knows someone who either smokes cigarettes or vapes. Nicotine can be very addictive no matter what form it comes in; therefore you should never “try” it for fun and just say no. Once the addiction starts, it is very hard to stop.

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