Monthly Archives: January 2016

Smoking has been traced back to approximately 18,000 years ago. Tobacco is a native plant to the Americas. Native Americans used tobacco primarily for medicinal purposes and other ritualistic purposes. Almost certainly, the tobacco plant was first chewed. The plant comes from the same family as the potato, the pepper plant and nightshade.

Tobacco became a tool for ritualistic purposes among indigenous people in the Americas along with opium and cannabis. They would smoke these plants during rituals to enhance their experiences. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs used tobacco and even included it in their storytelling. By the time the Europeans landed in the Americas, tobacco was an integral part of native culture.

When Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, he was offered a gift of tobacco and knew that it was used for smoking. The plant and seeds were introduced to Europe when Columbus sailed back and it was immediately grown and sold.


Europeans believed, just as the indigenous American peoples did, that it was medicinal and had healing properties. Doctors wrote about it and attributed many curative properties to it in books. As tobacco became more and more popular in Europe, smoking became the preferred way to administer the ‘medicine’. Ironically, the doctor who promoted smoking tobacco in the late 1500’s died of a nasal malignancy, most likely from smoking his medicine!

The biggest proponent of tobacco smoking in England was a dandy favored by royalty, Sir Walter Raleigh. The colonial tobacco trade market took off as people became addicted to the substance. It was ‘reintroduced’ as a pleasure commodity in the New World by John Rolfe in Jamestown in the early 1600’s who began the first tobacco plantation after the reintroduction of tobacco.

As the Americas were increasingly colonized in the 1600’s, tobacco was used as a sort of money. It was used to barter with native peoples, but it was also used as a type of currency in Europe. By the mid-1600’s every civilization that was known smoked tobacco. At this time, however, the dangers of smoking were being realized and some people and governments were very vocal about how dangerous tobacco could be. It is highly ironic that some of the first civilizations to ban tobacco are the civilizations that have a large problem with it today. The Ottoman Empire thought that smoking was dangerous to morals and health. The Chinese emperor at the time banned smoking. Japanese shogun warriors did not like tobacco because it was a waste of farmland. However, the high society in Japan viewed tobacco smoking as high fashion and created smoking clubs.

Europeans quickly spread tobacco to Asia and Africa. India, South Asia and the Middle East were already smoking cannabis well before the introduction of tobacco by foreign traders. Although tobacco started as a fairly benign substance in the Americas, foreign traders quickly turned it into a booming, profitable commodity globally and it has reigned as one of the world’s most loved, yet most hated commodity since that time.

Swiss research claiming that e-cigarettes encourage smoking and also inhibit smokers from ceasing the habit is flawed and unsubstantiated, top public health expert asserts.

In an earlier study, researchers claimed that smoking e-cigarettes was contributing to people not wanting to stop the habit and also people taking up the habit due to it. This meant that the common perception that vaping helps people stop smoking and does not in any way encourage people to start the habit was a fallacy.

However, the earlier findings have come under scrutiny and criticism from a group of researchers who claim the study was flawed and that there was no concrete evidence to actually prove that vaping encourages smoking.

According to the research team there is no substantial evidence that links increased uptake of smoking to vaping, or users being unable to stop the habit. This supports the earlier opinion that indicates vaping to be effective as an aid to stopping to smoke.

In his negative report which is found in the Swiss Medical Weekly, Dr. Michael Siegel, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health says the report is flawed and bears no evidence.

Siegel wrote that the study didn’t follow a longitudinal approach that compares two sides of the sample, in this case- vapers and non-vapers. It also didn’t experiment on the changes that were affecting the participants and the period was not long enough hence lacks a credible baseline vaping position for each individual.

The study mainly focuses on if the participants had at some point used a vape pen or e-cigarette. The researcher reasons that the vaper could have just vaped for the first time one day before the study. This isn’t sufficient time to actually confirm that the smoking or failure to stop smoking was as a result of the vape pen.

Siegel says the study places more emphasis on the changes that took place over the previous year and not the behavior and effects on the smoking during the period being studied. The study doesn’t give the researchers the chance to know which came first – whether the behavior change occurred before taking up vaping or vaping came before after the behavioral change.

Dr Siegel also notes that the study imply asks if a user has ever vaped and doesn’t focus on the length of time and frequency of c vaping. A person who may had smoked just once is classified same as another who has been smoking e-cigarettes for a long time.

This study comes a t a time when another finding suggested that e-cigarettes don’t help people stop but rather encourage to smoke more.