The Origin of Tobacco
As to tobacco, everything starts in the south-central Americas.
Native Americans were the first tobacco users. They planted their first tobacco for thousands of years (archaeological deducts it’s between 5000 and 3000 B.C.). At that time, human beings were still in primitive society. People discovered that tobacco unexpectedly, a plant with a unique odor, has the effect of waking up the brain and relieving fatigue, which is very magical. So they began to use tobacco in various ways: chewing, sniffing, eating, drinking and smearing it on the body, and smoking.
At that time, it was also found that the plant had the function of preventing snakes and repelling insects, as well as treating some headaches and brain fever. This further booted myth of tobacco as a “panacea” that can dispel evil and cure disease, revive the dead and resist evil. Smoke from burning tobacco is regarded as “communicating with gods” and becomes a way of worship in primitive religion. There will also be “tobacco ceremony” at major tribal gatherings. Some people even have to bring tobacco and utensils into the earth, which has a strong superstitious sense. People have an instinctive fear of the unknown. It can be said that tobacco, a mysterious and ancient plant, plays an important role in Indian life.
Such a state lasted until the great navigational age of the 15th century, when Europeans explored the American continent, which had not yet established a modern state.
At the same time as they arrived in the Americas, Columbus’s sailing team found the Indians smoking tobacco in their hands. They were surprised to call it “glowing coals“. They saw the Aboriginal chieftain using a “Y” shaped tube with two ends of the fork inserted into his nostrils and burning tobacco on the other side. Among them, “Y” tube is called “Tobago”, which is also the predecessor of the word “Tobacco”.
The discovery of the American continent opened the door to the spread of tobacco around the world. When Columbus returned to Europe, he first brought tobacco back to Spain, then it’s spread to Portugal. In 1560, Jean Nicot, a French diplomat in Portugal, brought the seeds back to France through her own planting experiment, dedicated them to the then Queen Mother and cured her headache. The Queen Mother was so happy that she fell in love with tobacco. Members of the Royal Family immediately took snuff as a fashionable trend and it became popular in the upper classes. The price of tobacco has risen, and the magical nicotine component has its name, nicotine, to commemorate the great achievements of diplomatic ambassador Nicotine.
In just over a hundred years, tobacco has been well known all over the world. Science is not yet mature enough to detect the components in tobacco, and the health hazards of burning tobacco are not widely recognized. The pleasure of nicotine, like the new antennae of human senses, has suddenly opened up and spread rapidly and widely.
A Cigarette “Industrial Revolution”
Tobacco has existed for centuries, first in Europe, Mexico, and then in the United States during the Civil War. Compared with pipe and cigar, the cigarette has not been the most mainstream consumption mode.
The recession of 1873 stimulated the growth of low-cost cigarette sales and attracted many tobacco practitioners into the field of cigarette manufacturing, such as Old Judge and Welcome brand cigarettes produced by Goodwin & Company in New York, and Three Kings and Vanity Fair brands of William S. Kimball.
Even with more brands, cigarettes had less than 2% of the total tobacco market until 1900.
In the second industrial revolution, mechanized mass production gradually replaced the manual labor of workers, which can be said to be a new business model for cigarettes. In 1881, Virginia inventor James Albert Bonsack (James Bonsack) designed a more advanced cigarette machine (cigarette machine was invented before, but the output was very small and not well used), which could produce 15,000 cigarettes per hour. This machine produce the equivalent of a cigarette worker’s 1 hour work in a minute. Since then, the cost of cigarettes has been drastically reduced.
Bonsack cooperated with James Duke, a tobacco manufacturer and entrepreneur at the time. Duke emphasized efficiency and product sustainability, and transformed Bonsack’s patents into strong competitiveness.
Development of Tobacco Advertising
Many of Duke’s subsequent innovations were aimed at addressing the imbalance between productivity and market penetration brought about by Bonsack machines – The problem of excess productivity associated with mass production of cigarettes emerged then.
So, with the goods available, how to open the market, let more people understand and use, and ultimately re-purchase of cigarettes as consumer goods?
Duke integrated advertising into the modern cigarette industry. Initially, he put elaborate lottery tickets, coupons, and cards collected into each pack of cigarettes. From generals, adventures to fashion, beauty to the “actress series” for men, Duke aims to promote consumers to buy a complete set.
The initial target of tobacco promotion was young people.
The New York Times accused Duke in its report: “Every strategy is to arouse the spiritual interest of teenagers, especially the pictures printed on the cards. To collect cards, children under 12 need to consume nearly 12,000 cigarettes. In order to achieve his goal, he became immoral and dishonest.”
Duke used growing advertising to make his position in the tobacco trade stronger and stronger. In 1889, Duke’s American Tobacco Company spent $800,000 on advertising, accounting for 20% of sales.
It has to be said that cigarette advertising representing the culture of the times has always been highly controversial, but the major tobacco giants have to invest part of their budget in advertising promotion to attract consumers.
In 1914, Reynolds tobacco used advertisements to make Camel brand cigarettes a national commodity.
Newspapers across the country have published a simple picture “Camel is coming” for several days without any hint that the advertisement is related to any product or brand. The second round of advertisements used the text “Tomorrow, there will be more camels in this town than the all in Africa and Asia.” After creating a series of expectations, Camel brand cigarettes finally appeared. Today, with highly developed information channels, we all know that Camels are not a rare species, but a century ago, this animal was full of mystery and exotic feelings in the hearts of most Americans. Reynolds’approach to tobacco, while solving the advertising mystery, is deeply engraved in the minds of the public, along with the classic image of Joe Camel.
This is undoubtedly an unprecedented success of advertising, since Camel cigarettes began to “encroach” on the lives of the American people, but in just four years, it has reached the first position in the national tobacco sales. Until the 1990s, Joe Camel was more recognizable than Mickey Mouse among American children aged 5 to 6. This national commodity has become a symbol of Reynolds tobacco, and has also made cigarettes as a popular consumer property, breaking through conventional cultural concepts and being constructed.
In addition, the image of Marlboro cowboy can also be used as a classic image. Western cowboys have a strong symbolism in American culture – freedom, heroism, courage, but also deep and graceful. This is also the brand image transformation brought about by Philip Morris’ choice of Leo Bernard Advertising Company. Marlboro, a tobacco brand that once aimed at women’s market and sold plain, has surged into a model of attractive and macho men, which shows that the added value of the role of cowboy is immeasurable.
Tobacco products have gone through a long “golden period of advertising” and have produced many successful textbook-level cases. Of course, there are many advertisements that focused on profits only when advertising. In the late 1940s, the famous Camel claimed that doctors smoked more camel cigarettes than other brands, and tried to alleviate the public’s fear of the potential harm of cigarettes by linking the image of doctors who was respected by society.
It also exposes the social problems of the tobacco industry, that is, the trade-off between the interests of tobacco companies and public health.
Together with the tobacco advertisements in full blossom, the medical research on burning tobacco is in progress. In the 1920s, in the authoritative medical and academic circles, opinions on tobacco were also divergent. Even if the potential chronic diseases of smoking had begun to emerge, there was still a lack of evidence for clinical trials, which could only remain in the hypothetical stage. In the 1930s and 1940s, there was a new breakthrough in the analysis of smoking behavior in the medical community, and the health problems of many smokers became more clear in the data.
Under the exposure of tobacco control organizations and authoritative bodies, the harm of smoking to personal health and the threat to public health are further widely known. The control of product advertising, the increase of tobacco tax and the creation of a relatively harmful alternative to tobacco are restricting the development of cigarettes in many ways.
Now is the future you once said
The birth of electronic cigarettes is by no means of accident.
Under the pressure of many aspects of society, the tobacco industry urgently needs to change, and it needs to jump out of the pit criticized by countless people. Although the cigarette-like products created by Mr. Han Li really “died like vapor in his own country, this precedent has brought endless inspiration to the electronic cigarette brands all over the world.
It’s a revolutionary product, like a 19th century cigarette. We used to add the word “tradition” before cigarettes, but hundreds of years ago, cigarettes were completely new to the people at that time.
In the future, electronic cigarettes will also evolve into another kind of existence, which is the reincarnation of all things.
Hundreds of years later, people holding “future cigarette” may think of a product called vapes in the early 21st century. How many businessmen, politicians and institutional media have been excited and distressed by it, waiting for it to change until then.
Now is the future and will eventually become history. Fortunately, this history is created by us.