No Smoke Without Fire

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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No Smoke Without Fire

Post by TalkingPoint » Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:13 pm

No Smoke Without Fire

Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.

Although Christopher Columbus introduced tobacco to Europe as early as 1492 on his return from America, it was not until more than half a century later that it became popular. In the 1550s and '60s tobacco gained popularity in countries such as England, France and Spain because it was widely believed to possess healing properties. It was even included in a book by the Spanish doctor Nicholas Monardes, as a cure for nearly 40 different ailments.

However, up to this point tobacco was not smoked in cigarette form. The dried leaves were simply ground up to be used in tinctures and ointments, chewed, or sniffed in powder form as snuff (a powder that gentlemen could inhale through the nostrils). Tobacco could also be smoked in pipes. The smoking of tobacco in cigarette form was not even thought of until 1588 when Thomas Harriet of Virginia, America, suggested that the "medicine" could be smoked that way.

Even so, cigarette smoking did not become widespread until after the American civil war when a new curing process was discovered. In the late 1880s sales were further boosted after the invention of machines for rolling cigarettes. Machine-made cigarettes could be produced more quickly and more cheaply than hand-rolled ones. Nevertheless, some sections of the tobacco-using society did not switch to cigarettes – chewing tobacco remained the preferred choice of the typical American cowboy, for example.

Apart from being used for medicinal purposes tobacco became so valuable that it even served as currency from time to time. As early as the 1600s it was used as money and in 1776 tobacco was used by America to guarantee loans from France. Tobacco seemed to be the perfect cash crop... It was not until 1826 that the pure form of nicotine was isolated by scientists. Shortly afterward it was discovered to be poisonous.

In spite of this, in 1901 9.5 billion cigarettes and cigars were bought by the unassuming public. This was a considerable amount but more was to come... Cigarette smoking really took off during World War 1 (1914-18) when soldiers who smoked were perceived as being "manly". Then, between the wars, cigarette advertising began to focus on the female market so more and more women took up smoking. The number of women smokers tripled between 1925 and 1935. In World War 2 (1939-45) cigarettes were even included in the rations of American soldiers. In this way cigarettes were "exported" and "advertised" across the globe. Consequently cigarette sales soared.

It wasn't until the 1950s that the public began to become aware of the links between lung cancer and smoking. In 1952 Reader's Digest magazine published an article exploring the health risks associated with smoking. The link between cigarettes and cancer became public.

By the 1960s the effects of smoking on health had become more widely known and in 1965 cigarette advertisements were banned from British television, followed 6 years later by American television. Government health warnings on cigarette packets became mandatory soon after. Some cigarette companies rose to the challenge and produced tobacco-free cigarettes. Unfortunately such attempts to win the public over to a "safer cigarette" failed miserably. Considering that these cigarettes were made from substances such as dried lettuce leaves this is hardly surprising.

In the early 1980s it became apparent that passive smoking could cause cancer and soon many companies banned smoking in the workplace. Bans on smoking in many public areas, such as trains and cinemas, soon followed.

Nowadays many people have given up smoking and it is less fashionable to take up smoking than it used to be. Faced with potentially dwindling markets tobacco companies are seeking new customers, currently setting their sights on developing countries in areas such as Asia.

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
  • 1. It was not until 1826 that the pure form of nicotine was __________ by scientists.
    2. Columbus introduced tobacco to Europe as early as 1492 on his return from __________.
    3. In World War 2 cigarettes were even included in the __________ of American soldiers.
    4. Cigarettes made from __________ such as dried lettuce leaves failed miserably.
    5. Tobacco was even included in a medical book as a __________ for nearly 40 different ailments.
    6. In 1776 tobacco was used by America to __________ loans from France.

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