Tobacco is obtained from the dried leaves of the Nicotina genus of plants. It contains nicotine, and is usually smoked in cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It can be mixed with many substances, most commonly cannabis/marijuana. Its active ingredient is nicotine, a highly addictive alkaloid which is used as a natural pesticide, but is toxic in the milligram range, with an LD50 of just 60mg.

Introduction to Tobacco

Using Tobacco

Tobacco is cultivated for its leaves. It's a plant of great importance economically and socially.

Ways of administration

Tobacco can be smoked, snorted or chewed. Since the late 19th century inexpensive manufactured cigarettes have been widely available, and this is the main use of tobacco today. Hand or machine-rolled cigars and commercial preparations for chewing are also widespread. Snuff was previously very popular in Europe and Asia but today it is largely out of fashion.

Of the 6 to 11 mg of nicotine contained on average in a cigarette, about 1 to 3 mg are absorbed by lungs.
Nicotine is also easily absorbed through the skin, which is the cause for some acute intoxications and for the symptoms sometimes observed on tobacco harvesters : nausea, headache, muscular asthenia. This can be dangerous to children and small pets. The property is also deliberately taken advantage of by some users.

Effects of Tobacco

Nicotine is the alkaloid responsible for the effects of tobacco. These include :
- Stimulation of Central Nervous System (CNS), stimulation of vomiting center and respiratory center
- Increases tonus and activity of intestinal smooth muscle
- Induces tachycardia, vasoconstriction and increase in blood pressure

Combinations with Tobacco

Different Uses for Tobacco

The dangers of Tobacco

The main danger in tobacco is the risk of cancer associated with the smoke of cigarette. The combustion products of tobacco are responsible for those cancers (especially nitrosamines, from the oxidization of nicotine).
However, nicotine is still toxic and its responsibility is involved in lung and cardiovascular affections not related to tumors.
Tobacco is also an highly addictive product, not only by the addictive component of nicotine, but also by the gestures associated with its consumption.

Growing Tobacco

Tobaccos are composed of two main species : Nicotiana Tabacum and Nicotiana Rustica. The most cultivated tobaccos are N. Tabacum breedings. Tobacco is an annual plant, it can grows to 2 m (for cultivated varieties) and the leaves measure about 50-70 x 30-45 cm.

Types of Tobacco Pipes



Western Tobacco Pipes

Native American Tobacco Pipes

Forms of Tobacco

United Nations



Other Countries

History of Tobacco

Tobacco was already chewed, snorted and smoked in America, but was also considered as a medicinal plant. Its first use in Europe was as a medication, Catherine de Medici used it for her son' headaches. From that point, its use has quickly spread in Europe.
Tobacco started to be smoked in Europe in the 17th century.

Tobacco in Native American Culture

Tobacco and the Development of Opium Smoking in Asia

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Nicotiana Rustica image: content/uploads/2009/08/non3.jpg

Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal plants - 4th edition - Jean Bruneton (only the 2nd edition is available in english)

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