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  • Writer's pictureGary Cruice

Some Premium Tobacco History

Most of us know a bit about the background of the premium cigars we smoke - blend, body, country of origin, and other characteristics. We probably each also know a bit of premium tobacco history, but how much? We hope that this post helps fill in some blank spots in your knowledge, and gives you some new avenues to pursue your own premium tobacco research.

It was about 8,000 years ago that tobacco as we know it today started to be grown in the Americas. Once Native Americans started enjoying tobacco, it has been chewed, sniffed, and smoked well before European contact. Evidence indicates that the indigenous peoples of Peru were the first to smoke tobacco. (Scandanavian Tobacco Group) It seems that both nicotiana rustica and nicotiana tabacum diffused from South America, with nicotiana tabacum found primarily in North America (what is now the United States). (National Library of Medicine)

When Columbus landed in 1492, it was the Taino Indians he encountered. The Taino smoked the leaf (cohiba) in cones called tabacu as part of sacred rituals. The Rite of Tobacco was a powerful, spiritual, sacred, and religious ceremony among all the Taino tribes. The behike (witch doctor) would sit on his dujo (ancestral ceremonial seat or throne) to inhale cohiba/cohoba. Through observation and translation the terms became mixed. Today we smoke premium tobacco rolled into a cigar, and Cohiba is a brand of premium cigar in two countries.

In 1592, a century after Columbus discovered the Americas, tobacco had been grown in Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, then spread to the Philippines, India, Java, Japan, West Africa, China. Tobacco was even brought to Mongolia and Siberia by merchants. (Saigon Tobacco Compnay Limited) This premium tobacco is primarily variations of nicotiana tabacum.

While all of that should be confusing enough! We know part of the history tobacco has played in the history of the United States. Check out a bit more background from the History Channel!

Smoking premium tobacco takes many forms.
Silvia Lopez, a shaman apprentice from the Shipibo tribe.

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