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History of Smoking

History of smoking

2007  For the first time on the market appeared REBEL electronic cigarettes and electronic cigars. It feels like a cigarette, looks like a cigarette but it isn't bad for your health.

2006  Scotland bans smoking in all enclosed public places including every pub, club and bar, and some outside shelters. Guidelines give local councils the power to ban smoking in outdoor public parks (26 March).

Members of Parliament vote overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, including pubs and private members' clubs, in England and Wales, from 2007 (14 February).

Spain bans smoking in the workplace (1 January) but allows bars and restaurants in excess of 100 square metres to have a designated smoking room. Bars smaller than 100 square metres can choose to be 'smoking' or 'non-smoking'.

2005  Northern Ireland minister Shaun Woodward announces that smoking will be banned in all enclosed public places in Northern Ireland from 2007.

2004  Ireland bans smoking in all enclosed public places, including pubs, clubs and restaurants (31 March).

2003  New York City bans smoking in all public places (31 March).

Advertising and promotion of tobacco banned in UK.

2002  British Medical Association claims there is 'no safe level of environmental tobacco smoke'.

UK Government forced to increase cross-Channel shopping guidelines from 800 to 3,200 cigarettes per person.

Greater London Authority Investigative Comittee on Smoking in Public Places calls for more research into passive smoking but declines to recommend further restrictions on smoking in public places.

2000  Jury awards punitive damages of nearly $145bn against five US tobacco companies after a class action in the state of Florida.

Canadian health minister introduces graphic warnings on cigarette packs in Canada.

Supported by FOREST, cross-Channel shopper Gary Mullen goes to court and wins back 5,000 cigarettes that had been seized by Customs at Dover.

1999  UK hospitality industry introduce Voluntary Charter on Smoking in Public Places. Pubs and restaurants to introduce signs alerting customers to their policy on smoking.

First finding for an individual against a tobacco company. Jury in Portland, Oregan, awards family of Jesse Williams $81m against Philip Morris in punitive damages plus $821,485 in compensatory damages. Judge later reduces the punitive damages to $32 million and was then reinstated in 2002.

Two tobacco companies cleared of wrongdoing in the death of a smoker from lung cancer by a Louisiana jury.

UK Health and Safety Commission publishes draft Approved Code of Practice on Smoking at Work. Recommends, as a first option, that companies ban smoking at work, but admits that proving a link between between passive smoking and ill health would be difficult 'give the state of the scientific evidence'. (When the final version is published in 2000, the Government declines to implement it.)

1998  46 US states embrace $206bn settlement with cigarette makers over health costs for treating sick smokers.

Tobacco executives testify before Congress that nicotine is addictive under current definitions of the word and that smoking may cause cancer.

1997  Federal judge rules that US Government can regulate tobacco as a drug.

1995 New York City passes Smoke-Free Air Act and strengthens Clean Indoor Air Act.

1994  Executives of seven largest US tobacco companies swear in Congressional testimony that nicotine isn't addictive and deny manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Tobacco taxes cut in Canada to deal with smuggling problem.
Mississippi files first of 24 state lawsuits seeking to recoup millions from tobacco companies for smokers' Medicaid bills.

Diana Castano, whose husband died of cancer, files case against the tobacco industry. It grows to include millions of smokers and an alliance of 60 lawyers for the plaintiffs.

MacDonalds bans smoking in all its restaurants

1993  Vermont bans smoking in indoor public places, the first US state to do so.

1992  Nicotine patches introduced.

US Supreme Court rules that warning labels on packs of cigarettes do not protect tobacco companies from lawsuits.

1990  Smoking banned on US interstate buses and all domestic airline flights of six hours or less.

1988  US Surgeon General concludes that nicotine is an addictive drug in his 20th report.

1987  US Congress bans smoking on airline flights of less than two hours.

1983  Rose Cipollone, a smoker dying from lung cancer, files a landmark lawsuit, which drags on for nine years. She is finally awarded $400,000, but the decision is overturned. 

1973  First US federal restriction on smoking. Officials rule all airlines must create non-smoking sections.

1971  Government bans cigarette advertisements on radio.

Voluntary agreement by tobacco companies leads to print health warnings on packs in the UK.

1970  Broadcast ads for cigarettes are banned in America. Last advert is for Virginia Slims and is screened in 1971.
1965  Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act requires US Surgeon General's warnings on cigarette packs.

UK Government bans cigarette ads on television in the UK.

1964  US Surgeon General Luther Terry announces that smoking causes lung cancer.

1950  Evidence of a link between lung cancer and smoking published in the British Medical Journal. Research by Professor (now Sir) Richard Doll and A Bradford Hill.

1914  Outbreak of World War I sees cigarette rations introduced. Smoking hugely popular with soldiers in battlefields of northern Europe and cigarettes became known as 'soldier's smoke'.

1900  Smoking jackets and hats have been introduced for gentleman smokers. After-dinner cigar (with a glass of port or brandy) is now an established tradition in turn of the century Britain. Cigarettes also a part of life. 

1858  Fears about the effects on smoking on health first raised in The Lancet.

1856  First cigarette factory opened. It was in Walworth, England, and owned by Robert Golag, a veteran of the Crimean War.

1832  First paper rolled cigarette. It is widely believed that the first paper rolled cigarettes were made by Egyptian soldiers fighting the Turkish-Egyptian war. Other historians suggest that Russians and Turks learned about cigarettes from the French, who in turn may have learned about smoking from the Spanish. It is thought that paupers in Seville were making a form of cigarette, known as a 'papalette', from the butts of discarded cigars and papers as early as the 17th century. 

1830  First Cuban seegars (as they were then known) arrive in London. Sold by Robert Lewis in St James's Street in 1830.

1600  Tobacco production now well established in the New World. Despite being banned by His Holiness Pope Clement VIII, who threatened anyone who smoked in a holy place with excommunication, smoking was becoming increasingly popular with Europeans.

1596-1645  Michael Feodorovich: the first Romanov Csar declared the use of tobacco a deadly sin in Russia and forbade possession for any purpose. Tobacco court established to try breaches of the law. Usual punishments were slitting of the lips or a terrible and sometimes fatal flogging. In Turkey, Persia and India, the death penalty was prescribed as a cure for the habit.

1595  Tobacco, the first book in the English language about tobacco, published.

1566-1625  King James I famously published his treatise,
'A Counterblast to Tobacco' in 1604. In it he described the plant as 'an invention of Satan' and banned tobacco from London's alehouses. Later he had a change of heart, and 'nationalised' the burgeoning tobacco industry in England and even reduced tobacco taxes.

1565 (approx)  First shipment of tobacco reaches Britain.

1552-1618  Sir Walter Raleigh: erroneously thought to have introduced tobacco to England. He did, though, popularise it in the court of Elizabeth I. 

1542-1591  Richard Grenville (cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh): another contender for being British mariner who introduced tobacco to England.

1541-1596  Sir Francis Drake: the first sea captain to sail around the world may have been the man to introduce tobacco to England.

1532-1595 Sir John Hawkins: first English slave trader, he  made three expeditions from Africa to the Caribbean in the 1560s and is the most likely candidate for being the first to bring tobacco to England. 

1493 AD  Rodrigo de Jerez became the first European smoker in history. One of Christopher Columbus's fellow explorers, he took his first puff of the New World's version of the cigar in Cuba. When he returned home he made the mistake of lighting up in public and was thrown into prison for three years by the Spanish Inquisition - becoming the world's first victim of the anti-smoking lobby!

1000 BC  People start using the leaves of the tobacco plant for smoking and chewing. How and why tobacco was first used in the Americas no one knows. The first users are thought to have been the Mayan civilisations of Central America. Its use was gradually adopted throughout the nations of Central and most of North and South America.

6000 BC  Tobacco starts growing in the Americas. Tobacco in its original state is native only to the Americas.

Sources: The Times, Guardian, BBC Online,, FOREST

Filed: 02/01/03


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