of the valley
Most people think
that the American Indians are the ones to blame, but it was Herodotus,
in fact, to mention inhaling the smoke of some smoldering grass. Nicotine–the
most important alkaloid of the plant–has been found in the mummy of the
Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. Moreover, devices related to smoking have been
discovered in those ancient tombs.
public opinion is that tobacco was imported to Europe in 1558 due to Francesco
Fernandez, the doctor of Philippe II, King of Portugal at that time. At
first, it grew in palaces because of its aesthetic value but very soon,
almost everyone gained access to the cultivated poison, which made many
rulers and highly placed officials take preventive measures against already
|Pope Urban VII excommunicated
|Louis XIII prohibited
the use of tobacco.
|Smokers in Spain were
sentenced to prison and hard labor for life by the church court.
|Jacob I, the king of
Britain prohibited smoking and banished the smokers from London.
|Michael Romanov, king
of Russia, punished smokers in the following manner: offenders caught for
the first time were given 60 lashes on their feet; the second time the
smoker had his nose or ears cut off and was exiled to Siberia.
|Murad IV, a sultan of
Turkey, ordered smokers to have their hands cut off.
|Tobacco traders in Persia
were burnt together with their wares.
In India, the nose or
the upper lip of smokers was cut.
|Apparently, these measures
have been both insufficient and unsuccessful.
Tobacco itself is
an annual, about 2 m high, and has large leaves and pink blossoms. In 1828,
the French pharmacists Pierre-Joseph Pelletier and Joseph-Bienaim Caventou
extracted the poison, the alkaloid nicotine, which was a colorless oily
liquid with a sharp hot taste. About 50 mg of it would be sufficient to
kill a non-smoker. Researches show that the temperature of the burning
end of a cigarette is 830-880 degrees C, which enriches the smoke with
more than 1500 ingredients! They were divided into different groups according
to their toxic effects:
1. Carbon monoxide–it decreases
the oxygen saturation of blood.
2. Irritating substances–they
cause cough and wheezing.
3. Dangerous carcinogenic
What then makes people light
the next cigarette? At first, nicotine stimulates the brain but shortly,
it paralyzes nerve impulses and, as a result, the smoker craves for another
cigarette. That is how smoking becomes a habit. The American writer Mark
Twain said it was easy to give up smoking and that he had done it a hundred
thousand times himself.
Many plants are poisonous
and tobacco happens to be one of them. People smoke it because they easily
get addicted to the smoke, gradually killing themselves. Is it the plant