Tobacco is prominent in nations all over the world today, but it has a bit of a controversial past. Actions taken over 500 years ago fueled the popularity of tobacco use and it eventually became a top export for numerous countries. In modern-day Europe (2014, to be precise), daily smokers made up 8.7% of Sweden’s population and 27% in both Greece and Bulgaria. Overall, 2014 data concluded that 6% of the European population over the age of 15 was smoking a minimum of 20 cigarettes each day. That’s a lot of tobacco, but it didn’t grow there to begin with. So, how did it get to Europe in the first place? What was its purpose?

Early Uses for Tobacco

Tobacco is thought to have been used for thousands of years by Indigenous groups in the pre-Columbian era. Cultivation of the tobacco plant was done with purpose and the leaves smoked in recreational, medicinal, and ceremonial settings. Believed to be an effective cure for many ailments, tobacco leaves were used as bandages, pain killers for migraines, and more, though some people would simply inhale it through their nostrils until they passed out. Back then, tobacco leaves were given as gifts and even used in bartering for other goods, but as far as we know, it grew only in the Americas and wasn’t native to European land. Once it arrived, however, tobacco use exploded and an industry of production and trade was born.

Who Brought Tobacco Back From the New World?

The year was 1492, and Christopher Columbus had just reached the shores of what he thought was India. He had been welcomed by the Indigenous peoples who lived there and given tobacco as a gift – a warm gesture of friendship. One of Chris’ crewmen, Rodrigo de Jerez, partook in the act of smoking the tobacco leaves and instantly fell in love. Credited as Europe’s first smoker, Jerez brought tobacco from Cuba back to Europe with him. Unlike modern-day parents catching their teens smoking behind the old shed, however, Jerez was imprisoned for almost 7 years as many thought that smoke emitting from his mouth and nose was, to say the least, unnatural.

Throughout the 15th century, tobacco was planted in France, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, and England, and became a hot item for trade across all of Europe and the Americas. Once the 1700s hit, tobacco products could be found in nearly every European country. Smoking tobacco, as well as chewing it and snuffing it became a trend that spread quickly across the globe. A true cash crop, everyone wanted a piece of the pie, and tobacco fields continued to grow. Notably, Pierre Lorillard started a company in NYC to manufacture cigars, and it’s now the oldest tobacco company in existence in the United States.

Total Leaf Supply Knows Tobacco

We know a lot about tobacco, and our goal is to share our passion with you by providing the highest quality whole leaf tobacco that the world has to offer. We source our products carefully from every major growing region and believe that tobacco should be completely natural and unaltered in order to enjoy the unique flavors that come from each country’s growing process. Whole leaf tobacco makes a big difference, and we’re ready to show you just how enjoyable it can be with a wide selection. Now that you know how tobacco came to Europe, order a few products online today with Total Leaf Supply and try premium whole tobacco leaves from around the world!