Tobacco Timeline

  • In contrast to the other timelines, which describe how an innovation in the historical East was later adopted in “the West”, the Tobacco timeline shows how a western innovation was exported East.
  • In 1492, Christopher Columbus was offered dried tobacco leaves as a gift from   American Indians.
  • Tobacco was established as an export industry in America, in Virginia, in 1616.
  • A Spaniard was the first European to bring tobacco seeds to the Old World in 1559 following orders of King Philip II of Spain. These seeds were planted in the outskirts of Toledo. The introduction of tobacco into India is generally attributed to the Portuguese.
  • Mughal Emperor Akbar first smoked tobacco in 1604-5 and by 1617 its use had become widespread amongst both nobility and common people.  Jahangir (1605-27) issued a decree banning smoking.
  • By 1630’s The East India Company was making a profit of 4 to 1 on tobacco sales to the Middle East and tobacco tax was a significant revenue for the Mughals and the Persians.
  • Shah Abbas of Persia tried to ban tobacco many times and in 1628 the Shah was angered when 40  camels loads of tobacco from India arrived  despite an import ban. Shah Abbas also enjoyed ridiculing his courtiers by offering them ground horse droppings alleging it was a special tobacco.
  • By 1637 it was growing extensively in India, practically all over Persia and was also grown in Central Asia.
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