My Project on “Smoking and its Effects”

This biology project is about the cause and disadvantages of smoking. I am not only going to explain the health risks linked to smoking but I am also going to put the financial risks involved with smoking. This project is going to cover the diseases that smoking causes, pictures of body organs affected by smoking, facts about smoking, why smoking isn’t banned, benefits of giving up smoking, history of tobacco and a bibliography of all the sources of information used in this project. So read on for my project on “Smoking and its Effects.”

The History of Tobacco

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In 3000 B.C the Ancient Egyptians burnt sweet herbs and frankincense when sacrificing to their gods. This was the beginning of smoking. Then in the beginning of the Christian era smoke was inhaled through the burning fur of a hare, the diagnoses for epilepsy was the inhalation of smoke from a goat’s horn and for consumption, smoke inhaled through a reed of dried dung of an ox.

Somewhere in the United States was believed to be the birthplace of tobacco, a plant of the genus Nicotiana. How and when it was discovered is unknown (Huron Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she travelled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco).

What is certain is that tobacco smoking was practised among the early Mayas, probably in the district of Tabasco, Mexico, as part of their religious ceremonies. The Mayans had no paper to wrap their tobacco in so they wrapped it in palm leaves or cornhusks, and stuffed it into reeds or bamboo. On the other hand they also smoked rolled tobacco leaves as crude cigars.

Indians further north made pipes, some with a bowl and mouthpiece, others shaped like a Y, and placed the forked ends into their nostrils. They also blended their tobacco with other herbs and plants to vary the flavour.

In South America, the Aztecs smoked and took snuff. Elsewhere in the American continent, tobacco was chewed, eaten, drunk as an infusion, or rubbed into the body. Some historians claim that the Chinese invented the pipe and that Asians were smoking long before the Christian era, but they smoked grass and not tobacco, which had never been grown anywhere but in the Americas before Columbus.

Christopher Columbus landed on an island called Guanahani by its inhabitants and which he named San Salvador. The inhabitants told Columbus of a larger island and Columbus set sail. When he arrived at the island he saw the inhabitants walking around “with a little lighted brand made from a kind of plant whose aroma it was their custom to inhale.”

That same day, Rodriguo de Jerez (one of Columbus’ fellow explorers) took his first hesitant puff of the New World’s early version of the cigar, its ring size estimated to be as big as a man’s arm, and became the first European smoker in history. When Columbus and his crew returned home with some tobacco leaves, Rodrigo, who’d taken to smoking a cigar every day, made the mistake of lighting up the unusual plant in public. The Spanish Inquisition – the world’s first victim of the anti-smokers, promptly threw him into prison for three years.

In 1512 Portugal was the first country outside of the Americas to cultivate tobacco and by 1558 snuff was on sale in Lisbon. In approximately 1560 tobacco was introduced in Rome and in 1570 the tobacco plant was successfully grown in Germany and Switzerland and, as a medicinal herb, in Austria and Hungary. In approximately 1620 Japan banned smoking for the first time. Today, it has one of the highest numbers of adult smokers in the world, and one of the lowest incidents of lung cancer, similar to Greece and in 1622 onwards writers praised tobacco for as a universal remedy to mankind’s ills.

In 1648 anti-smoking increased throughout Europe and most writers then were against it and smoking was lauded as a preventive of the bubonic plague, or Black Death, which made its last and most celebrated appearance in London in 1665-1666, claiming an estimated 70,000 lives from a population of just under half a million.

In 1699 France’s Louis XIV and his physician, Fagon, opposed smoking. Snuff taking spread, probably because it was comparatively discreet and no one would know unless they hear you sneeze. The Portuguese introduced smoking into India, Eastern Asia and Japan.

In 1830 the first Cuban Segar (that is what it was called then) arrived in London at a shop called Robert Lewis in St James’ Street.

The world’s first factory to produce cigarettes by mass-production methods was established in Havana, Cuba, by Don Luis Susini, who abandoned hand rolling for steam-driven machines in 1853.

Later on in 1908 selling cigarettes to under 16 year old became illegal. By the mid-1990s after the gradual introduction of anti-smoking measures such as the mushrooming of ‘no smoking’ signs in cinemas, theatres, shops and other public meeting places – mainly to avoid paying the increased insurance premiums levied against smokers, cigarettes and pipes were in decline.

And lastly by early 1998, the number of British adult smokers had dropped to just 15 million, only slightly less than a third of the population and the biggest and mostly overlooked ‘minority’ in the UK.