Paper-wrapped roll of finely cut tobacco for smoking. Cigarette tobacco is usually milder than cigar tobacco. The Aztecs and other New World peoples smoked tobacco in hollow reeds, in canes, or wrapped in leaves, but it was in pipes and as cigars (cut tobacco wrapped in a tobacco leaf) that the Europeans first smoked tobacco. Early in the 16th century beggars in Sevilla, Spain, began picking up discarded cigar butts and wrapping them in scraps of paper to smoke, creating the first European cigarettes. In the late 18th century cigarettes acquired respectability, and in the 19th century their use spread throughout Europe. After World War I smoking cigarettes became generally respectable for women and consequently increased markedly. In the 1950s and '60s the health hazards associated with smoking (including lung cancer and heart disease) became widely known, and some countries launched campaigns against smoking. Declines in smoking in those countries have been offset by vastly increased numbers of smokers in developing nations.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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