Tobacco smoking

Tobacco smoking is the practice of smoking tobacco and inhaling tobacco smoke (consisting of particle and gaseous phases). (A more broad definition may include simply taking tobacco smoke into the mouth, and then releasing it, as is done by some with tobacco pipes and cigars.) The practice is believed to have begun as early as 50003000 BC in Mesoamerica and South America. Tobacco was introduced to Eurasia in the late 17th century by European colonists, where it followed common trade routes. The practice encountered criticism from its first import into the Western world onwards but embedded itself in certain strata of a number of societies before becoming widespread upon the introduction of automated cigarette-rolling apparatus.

By the mid-17th century most major civilizations had been introduced to tobacco smoking and in many cases had already assimilated it into the native culture, despite some continued attempts upon the parts of rulers to eliminate the practice with penalties or fines. Tobacco, both product and plant, followed the major trade routes to major ports and markets, and then on into the hinterlands. The English language term smoking appears to have entered currency in the late 18th century, before which less abbreviated descriptions of the practice such as drinking smoke were also in use.

As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, tobacco companies claimed contributory negligence as the adverse health effects were previously unknown or lacked substantial credibility. Health authorities sided with these claims up until 1998, from which they reversed their position. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, originally between the four largest US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states, restricted certain types of tobacco advertisement and required payments for health compensation; which later amounted to the largest civil settlement in United States history.

Cigarettes, French for "small cigar", are a product consumed through smoking and manufactured out of cured and finely cut tobacco leaves and reconstituted tobacco, often combined with other additives, which are then rolled or stuffed into a paper-wrapped cylinder. Cigarettes are ignited and inhaled, usually through a cellulose acetate filter, into the mouth and lungs.

Between 1970 and 1995, per-capita cigarette consumption in poorer developing countries increased by 67 percent, while it dropped by 10 percent in the richer developed world. Eighty percent of smokers now live in less developed countries. By 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) forecasts that 10 million people a year will die of smoking-related illness, making it the single biggest cause of death worldwide, with the largest increase to be among women. WHO forecasts the 21st century's death rate from smoking to be ten times the 20th century's rate ("Washingtonian" magazine, December 2007).