1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tobacco

TOBACCO, the name (see below) for the leaves of several species of Nicotiana (nat. ord. Solanaceae), variously prepared for use as a narcotic. While it is principally manufactured for smoking, a large amount is also prepared for chewing, and, to a more limited extent, it is taken in the form of snuff. Under one or other of these forms the use of tobacco is more widely spread than is that of any other narcotic or stimulant.

History.—Although the fact has been controverted, there cannot be a doubt that the knowledge of tobacco and its uses came to the rest of the world from America. In November 1492 a party sent out by Columbus from the vessels of his first expedition to explore the island of Cuba brought back information that they had seen people who carried a lighted firebrand to kindle fire, and perfumed themselves with certain herbs which they carried along with them. The habit of snuff-taking was observed and described by Ramon Pane, a Franciscan who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage (1494–1496), and the practice of tobacco-chewing was first seen by the Spaniards on the coast of South America in 1502. As the continent of America was opened up and explored, it became evident that the consumption of tobacco, especially by smoking, was a universal and immemorial usage, in many cases bound up with the most significant and solemn tribal ceremonies.

The term tobacco appears not to have been a commonly used original name for the plant, and it has come to us from a peculiar instrument used, for inhaling its smoke by the inhabitants of Hispaniola (San Domingo). The instrument, described by Oviedo (Historia de las Indias Occidentales, Salamanca, 1535), consisted of a small hollow wooden tube, shaped like a Y, the two points of which being inserted in the nose of the smoker, the other end was held into the smoke of burning tobacco, and thus the fumes were inhaled. This apparatus the natives called “tabaco”; but it must be said that the smoking pipe of the continental tribes was entirely different from the imperfect tabaco of the Caribees. Benzoni, on the other hand, whose Travels in America (1542–1556) were published in 1565, says that the Mexican .name of the herb Was “tabacco.”

The tobacco plant itself was first brought to Europe in 1558 by Francisco Fernandes, a physician who had been sent by Philip II. of Spain to investigate the products of Mexico. By the French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, seeds were sent from the Peninsula to the queen, Catherine de' Medici. The services rendered by Nicot in spreading a knowledge of the plant have been commemorated in the scientific name of the genus Nicotiana. At first the plant was supposed to possess almost miraculous healing powers, and was designated “herba panacea,” “herba santa,” “sana sancta Indorurn”; “divine tobacco” it is called by Spenser, and “our holy herb nicotian” by William Lilly. While the plant came to Europe through Spain, the habit of smoking was initiated and spread through English example. Ralph Lane, the first governor of Virginia., and Sir Francis Drake brought with them in 1586, from that first American possession of the English crown, the implements and materials of tobacco smoking, which they handed over to Sir Walter Raleigh. Lane is credited with having been the first English smoker, and through the influence and example of the illustrious Raleigh, who “tooke a pipe of tobacco a little before he went to the scaffold,” the habit became rooted among Elizabethan courtiers. During the 17th century the indulgence in tobacco spread with marvellous rapidity throughout all nations, and that in the face of the most resolute opposition of statesmen and priests, the “counterblast” of a great monarch, penal enactments of the most severe description, the knout, excommunication and capital punishment.

Botany.—There are about fifty species of Nicotiana, nearly all of which are natives of America. Few, however, are of economic importance. The great bulk of the tobacco supply is derived from

Fig. 1.—Flowering Top of N. Tabacum.

N. tabacum, the Virginian tobacco, a native of some part of Central or South America and now cultivated in almost all temperate and warmer countries. It is a coarse rank-growing annual, with a simple, unbranched, cylindrical stem which attains a height of 6 ft. and upwards, terminating in a panicle of pink or rose-coloured flowers and an elongated corolla tube (fig. I). The plant has alternate, simple, oblong-lanceolate leaves, those at the lower part of the stem being slightly stalked. and of large size, reaching to 2 ft. in length, while the upper are semi-amplexicaul and of variable outline. The seeds are brown in colour, with a rough surface, of minute size, and exceedingly numerous; as many as 1,000,000 may be, produced by a single plant. The whole of the green parts of the plant are covered with long soft hairs which exude a viscid juice, , giving the surface a moist glutinous feeling. The hairs are multicellular, and of two kinds, one branching and ending in a fine point, while the other, unbranched, terminates in a clump of small cells. Stomata occur on both surfaces of the leaves, and, with the peculiar hair structure render the microscopic appearance of the plant highly characteristic,

Fig. 2.-Microscopic Structure of Tobacco Leaf.

From this species the tobaccos of Cuba, the United States, the Philippine Islands and the Latakia of Turkey are derived, and it is also largely cultivated in India; the variety macrophylla. is the source of the Maryland tobaccos. N. persica, Persian tobacco, the source of the famous Shiraz tobacco, is regarded as only a variety of N. tabaoum, and an introduction from America. East Indian, or Green, tobacco is the product of another species, N. ruslica, a smaller plant with a much-branched stem and greenish-yellow flowers with a short, broad tube. It is a native of Mexico, and now widely cultivated in southern Germany, Hungary and the East Indies.

Cultivation.—Tobacco is cultivated in localities scattered over almost the whole world, ranging as far north as Quebec, Stockholm and the southern shores of Lake Baikal in one hemisphere, and as far south as Chile, the Cape of Good Hope and Victoria in the other. Whilst, however, the plant adapts itself to a great variety of climatic conditions and will grow on almost all kinds of soil, the flavour and quality of the produce are profoundly affected by variations in these two factors. Very slight differences in climate appear to cause very great differences in the quality of the tobacco, and ordinary meteorological records are of little use in determining the suitability or not of a region for a particular kind of leaf; this essential point must be determined by experiment. In general, tropical and semitropical conditions as to temperature, with a comparatively dry climate, give the best results.

Given suitable climatic conditions, the type of tobacco produced is determined mainly by the soil, and particularly by its mechanical or physical condition. Speaking generally, clay soils retentive of moisture produce heavy-cropping tobaccos which cure to a clark brown or red colour. Sandy soils produce tobaccos with a thin leaf, curing to a yellow or bright red colour. In the same locality, i.e. under the same climatic conditions, quite different kinds of tobacco may be produced in direct relation to the character of the soil. Thus the bright yellow tobacco used for cigarettes, &c., is largely produced in Virginia and N. Carolina on a loose porous sand, which must be at least a foot deep, and contains usually about 8% of clay; this sand is under laid by a clay subsoil, and, as Mr Milton Whitney points out in Tobacco Soils (U.S.A. Dept. of Agriculture, Farmers’ Bulletin, No. 83), this clay is the same as that on which the heavy manufacturing and export tobacco is grown. Where the clay is exposed on the surface the heavy type of tobacco is produced, and bright tobacco where the clay is covered by from 12 to 20 in. of sand. Tobacco soils should be well drained and contain a large percentage of humus.

Tobacco being cultivated over such a large area of the world, under very varying climatic conditions, and by many different races of mankind, the methods employed in its production naturally differ very considerably. As the United States of America produce more tobacco than any other country it will be best to deal generally with conditions there and to refer to marked differences in dealing with production in other countries.

The seed is sown in nursery beds, and the plants set out in the field later. Tobacco seeds are very small, and it is estimated that about 300,000 to 400,000 seeds go to the ounce. Allowing for those which fail to germinate (perhaps 25%), loss in transplanting, weak and backward plants, &c., one ounce of seed should yield about 40,000 plants.

The greatest possible care is bestowed on the preparation of the seed bed—it must have good, very rich soil in fine tilth, be protected from winds, and yet well exposed to sunlight; the southern or south-eastern slope of an open place in a forest is often selected. Hot beds are made when necessary. A bed with an area of about 50 sq. yds. is adequate for 1 oz. of seed. To destroy the seeds, &c., of weeds, and the larvae of insect pests, a fire is often lighted, kept from the ground itself by intervening wood logs, or the seed-bed is thoroughly steamed. After this treatment the upper 2 or 3 in of soil are well pulverized, and fertilizers added, usually, to prevent reintroduction of seeds of weeds, in the form of guano or chemical manures. The seed is now set; usually it is thoroughly mixed with a relatively large quantity of fine ashes, sand or meal, to facilitate thin and even sowing, and the surface of the bed is afterwards lightly brushed over with a broom; it is very important to avoid burying the seed at all deeply; a light covering of cloth or muslin, raised on short sticks, is often stretched over the bed. Great care is necessary in attending to the watering of the young and delicate seedlings, which are ready for transplanting in from fifty to sixty days after sowing. They must be well hardened off before being set out in the open.

The land for their reception must be thoroughly well tilled and manured. If moist, ridges are formed about 3 to 4 ft. apart; the distance apart in the rows varies greatly with various types of tobacco: 3 ft. is the normal for ordinary manufacturing and smoking tobaccos, 1 to 11/2 ft. for Cuba and Sumatra types. Cigar tobaccos become coarse if planted too widely. An acre of tobacco planted 3 ft. by 15 in. will contain 11,600 plants and £5 ft. 6 in. by 15 in., 10,000 plants. During the transplanting, pre erably done on cloudy days or during light rains, the plants must be handled very carefully; machines are now available which can set out and water plants over from two to six acres in a working day.

After transplanting the crop takes about another sixty days to mature, i.e. about 120 days in all from the date the seed was sown. During this period, until the plants begin to ripen, the tilth is maintained and weeds checked first by horse cultivators or horse hoes, and, as the plants increase in size, by hand labour. When the plants show signs of flowering they are “topped” to prevent seed formation, the terminal buds being removed, and only a certain number of leaves left on each plant to ripen. This operation requires experienced judgment to decide when it should be done; the number of leaves to be left varies with the variety and vigour of the plant, the nature of the soil, climate, seasons and particular use for which the crop is intended. The product from plants which have not been topped is of little value. In the U.S.A., in the cigar tobacco district, fifteen to twenty leaves are often left on each plant, and of manufacturing tobaccos only ten to twelve leaves. As one result of the topping, suckers are usually formed; these also must be removed, although, e.g. in Florida, vigorous stickers are sometimes allowed to remain when the plant is cut, and produce a “sucker crop” inferior in character to the first or principal crop, but still serviceable.

The leaves now ripen, indicated by a change from a dark to lighter green, and by the appearance of yellow spots. Ripening is complete in about 35 days after topping or about 155 days after sowing. A ripe leaf easily cracks or shows a crease when folded between the fingers. The leaves on a plant decrease in age from below upwards, and all are not ripe at exactly the same time. In high quality tobaccos the leaves are “primed” or picked singly as they ripen, but in the great bulk of American tobaccos the whole plant is cut close to the ground when the middle leaves are about ripe. In either case leaves should not be gathered when wet with dew or rain, or in very hot sunshine; the afternoon is usually the best time. The next step is to remove the harvested crop to the drying-shed; primed leaves are placed at once in shallow baskets or boxes, and when under cover are strung on string or on wire and hung up on laths in the barn. Cut plants are allowed to wilt, or become flaccid, before removal from the field, to prevent injury to the turgid leaves. These cut plants may be laid in rows on the ground to wilt, or spitted on long rods or laths supported on trestles, or placed on special drying racks. When sufficiently wilted they are hauled to the barn and hung up there on the same laths on which they were placed in the field.

A very interesting development of quite recent years is that of growing some valuable cigar tobaccos under artificial shade. Sumatra produced the best cigar wrappers of the world, and efforts to cultivate Sumatra tobacco in Florida under apparently suitable conditions of climate and soil were not successful. It was noticed, however, that if the Cultivation under shade. tobacco was grown under the shade of trees the character of the leaf was improved. Artificial shading, first by laths, and later by cheesecloth, both supported on posts, was then resorted to with eminently satisfactory results. The U.S.A. Department of Agriculture, in co-operation with local growers, devoted a great deal of attention and money to the problem, and Sumatra tobacco of very high quality is now produced in Florida and Connecticut. The yield of leaf is often much increased, the plants are protected from the weather, and the enhanced value of the crop much more than repays the very considerable expense involved in artificially shading whole fields. So successful have the results been that American-grown tobacco of the Sumatra type is now exported even to Cuba.

Important changes take place in the tobacco leaf from the time it is cut until the finished product is ready for consumption. These may be all placed under curing, but it is usual to recognize three stages: (1) curing proper; (2) fermentation; and (3) ageing.Curing.

Sun curing, now but little practised in the United States, is the simplest method. The wilted tobacco is suspended on racks in the sun. Great care is necessary to protect it from rain, and it must if necessary be placed in a barn in which fires may be required during wet weather. This method is employed in a portion of Virginia and results in a very sweet chewing tobacco.

Air curing is essentially similar to sun curing. The tobacco is hung in a barn in which there is a free circulation of air during dry weather. Artificial heat may be resorted to in bad weather; in the States, cigar tobaccos and “White Burley” are usually cured in this way. The process takes about six weeks.

In fire curing the tobacco is hung in the barn, and, after it has become of a rich yellow colour, slow fires, producing a gradual increase in temperature up to about 150° F., are lighted on the floor and maintained for four or five days. The firing must be repeated at intervals as the leaves become soft again. A considerable portion of the tobacco exported to England and Africa is fire-cured.

In flue curing, also known as the Virginian cure, fires are set outside the barn, and the heat led in iron pipes or flues, into the building are under the suspended tobacco, which is placed there quite fresh from the field. The temperature is raised, during three to five days, from about 90° F. to 140° F. for primed leaves, or 160° to 175° F. for tobacco on the stalk. The process, which requires great judgment and care, results in the bright yellow leaf so largely used for pipe tobacco, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. In a modification of this method, known as the Kentucky cure, large barns are used, the temperature is not raised above 100° F., and the process occupies from four to six weeks. By whichever way treated, the tobacco leaf after curing is brittle and cannot be handled without crumbling to powder. The contents of the barn are therefore left till moist weather occurs, and then by the admission of atmospheric air the leaf blades absorb moisture and become soft and pliant. In this condition the leaves are stripped from the stems and sorted into qualities, such as “lugs,” or lower leaves, “firsts” and “seconds.” These are made up into “hands,” or small bundles of from six to twelve leaves. Each bundle is tied round with a separate leaf, and in this condition the tobacco is ready for bulking for fermentation.

The tobacco, whether in bundles, hands or separate leaves, is piled up or bulked on the floor in a barn into a solid stack to the height of 5 or 6 ft. Within this stack a process of fermentation is quickly set up, and the temperature of the mass rises steadily till it reaches about 130° F. Great care is now taken to prevent overheating and to secure the Fermentation. uniform fermentation of all the tobacco. The pile is from time to time taken down and rebuilt, the tobacco from the top going to the bottom and that exposed at the edges being turned in to the centre. In from three to five weeks the fermentation should be sufficiently carried out, and the leaves then have a nice uniform brown colour. Dark-coloured leaves are produced when the temperature is allowed to mount higher than when light leaves are required. Fermentation is essentially a chemical process due apparently to the presence of enzymes, developed in the leaf during the earlier curing stages. The view has been put forward that fermentation is due to the activity of bacteria, distinct types occurring in various tobaccos, but the balance of evidence is against it. On the bacterial theory it was thought possible to inoculate a poor tobacco with, say, the special bacteria present in Cuban tobacco, and so give the product the aroma and other good qualities of the more valuable tobacco. When fermentation is completed the tobacco is graded, an operation carried out very carefully in the case of the better cigar tobaccos, and packed for export, cigar tobaccos in bales, and other kinds in hogsheads. It is then kept at a moderate and fairly uniform temperature in a warehouse, when, although there is no marked outward change, the tobacco becomes more mellow. Two years are usually required for ageing, but some tobaccos are kept for four or five years before being manufactured.

An artificial aroma is sometimes given to tobaccos, especially for the “fillers” of cigars, by saucing or treating the leaves with a solution containing an infusion of fine quality tobacco stems, rum, sour wine and various flavouring materials such as oil of aniseed, tincture of valerian, powdered cloves, cinnamon and liquorice.

Pests and Diseases.—Tobacco, like other cultivated plants, is subject to attack by various pests and diseases, but fortunately these are less destructive than with many crops. On the other hantfi comparatively trivial incidents do more harm to a relatively delicate plant like the tobacco than to more robust plants.

The “tobacco flea-beetle” (Epitrix parvula, Fabr.) is a small active beetle, the larvae of which attack the roots, while the adult beetles eat holes in the leaves. The latter is the more serious, as in addition to the actual damage done by the beetle the holes afford entrance to fungus spores, &c. Under the name “horn worms” are included the larvae or caterpillars of species of Protoparce. These comparatively large and voracious animals, when abundant, do great damage by eating the leaves. Other caterpillars, “budworms” (Heliothis, spp.), attack the buds or burrow into the seed-pods. Seedling plants of tobacco, like many other crops, are liable to attack by “cut worms,” the caterpillars of species of Peridromia and Agrotis. “Plant bugs,” which suck the juice of the leaves, have been recorded as serious enemies in some parts of the world. Recently, shade-grown tobacco in some localities has suffered considerably from the attacks of small sucking insects known as thrips, which produce “white veins” in the leaf. /Vhite vein may also be induced by other causes besides the attacks of thrips.

Stored tobacco is liable to be attacked and ruined by the “cigarette beetle,” a cosmopolitan insect of very varied tastes, feeding not only on dried tobacco of all kinds, including snuff, but also on rhubarb. cayenne pepper, tumeric, ginger, figs and her barium specimens. Other beetles, such as the rice weevil (Calandra oryza), also attack dried tobacco.

The fungoid diseases of tobacco are comparatively unimportant; there are, however, some diseases of obscure origin which at times cause considerable damage. “Mosaic disease” is the name given to a condition in which the leaves are more or less sharply differentiated into light and dark green patches. The matter has been fully investigated by Mr A. F. 'Woods (Bulletin No. 18, Bureau of Plant lndustry, U.S. Department of Agriculture), who attributes it not to any specific parasite but to a disturbance of the normal physiological activity of the cells.

“Frog's eye,” or “leaf spot,” denotes the occurrence of small white specks on the leaf. This disease is probably bacterial in origin. Wind and hail may break plants or damage leaves, especially if required for wrapper purposes. The provision of wind breaks is the only effective remedy.

Diseases which occur in curing are important. Excessive humidity causes small dark spots to appear; these become confluent and the whole leaf may become dark and decay. Various names are given, such as “pole burn,” “pole sweat,” “house burn.” The disease is checked by raising the temperature above 110° F., and reducing the humidity of the barn. Stem rot, due to a mould (Botrytis sp.), occurs in wet weather. Too rapid drying of the outer tissue of the leaf leads to the formation of “white veins,” which injure leaves required for wrapper purposes, otherwise it is not important. Another defect arising during curing and fermentation is the efflorescence of salts on the surface, a phenomenon known as “saltpetre”; light brushing and spraying with a weak solution of acetic acid are effective remedies.

Improvement by Selection.—Careful examination of a large number of individuals of one variety growing under similar conditions reveals differences in such characters as number of leaves per plant, the size and shape of the leaves, tendency to form suckers, time of maturing and resistance to disease. Other tests show variability in burning quality, elasticity of leaf, texture, taste, &c. The United States Department of Agriculture has closely investigated this important question and the results attained are brought together by Messrs H. D. Shamel and W. W. Cobey in Tobacco Breeding (Bulletin 96, Bureau of Plant Industry, 1907). No crop, it is pointed out, responds so readily to breeding as tobacco, or deteriorates more rapidly, as regards both yield and quality, if neglected.- The variations are classified as: (1) Variation in type due to crossing, change of soil and climate, especially, for example, when seed from the tropics is introduced to temperate regions. (2) Variations within the type, due to natural tendency to vary, local conditions and maturity of seed. When Cuban tobaccos were first introduced into Florida, the type broke up, but by carefully selecting the best plants and using them only as sources of seed for later crops, a good type was obtained. The tobacco flower is fortunately perfectly self-fertile, and by enclosing the flowers of selected plants in paper bags, so as to exclude all possibility of hybridization, progeny true to the type of the mother plant can be obtained.

No attempt should ever be made to raise large crops of tobacco from imported seed, but only a small crop, and the seed of the selected plants should be used for future propagation. In selection work the grower must keep definitely in view the special market requirements for the kinds of tobacco he is producing. Thus for wrapper tobaccos, amongst other points a broad, rounded leaf, which will yield perhaps eight wrappers, is much more valuable than a narrow pointed leaf which yields perhaps only four. Plants may be found growing side by side, the one with broad leaves, the other with narrow, but by selection the broad type can be perpetuated and gradually improved.

Hybridization can also be readily controlled in the case of tobaccos, and in this connexion it is useful to note that, if pollen is desired of some variety growing at a distance, it will retain its vitality for several weeks if kept perfectly dry, and so can readil be sent by post from one place to another. Another favourable fleature is the fact that a single capsule contains from 4000 to 8000 seeds, and one tobacco plant may easily produce from 500,000 to 1,000,000 seeds.


United Slates.—Tobacco cultivation dates in the States from the very early years of the 17th century, when it was taken up in Virginia. A general description has already been given of the methods of cultivation and preparation. In 1906 the total area under tobacco in twenty-five states was 796,099 acres, and the production 682,428,530 lb, valued at about £13,500,000. The principal tobacco-producing states, with the approximate value of their crops, were: Kentucky, £3,885,400; Ohio, £1,706,600; North Carolina, £1,396,153; Wisconsin, £1,342,600; Virginia, £1,206,309, Pennsylvania, £979,550 Connecticut, £883,184; Tennessee, £511,035; Florida, £330,750; New York, £244,053, and Maryland, £241,046 The average yield per acre in the States as a whole in 1906 was 857.2 lb. New Hampshire had the highest average, 1785 lb per acre, and Mississippi the lowest, 440 lb.

The successful production of cigar tobaccos from Cuban and Sumatran seed was a development of the late 19th century.

Perique tobacco is worthy of special notice. This famous tobacco is produced only at Grand Points in Louisiana. Great care is given to the cultivation, and damp atmospheric conditions are desirable during the ripening stages. The leaves, when stripped from the stalks, are made into rolls and subjected to great pressure, which is released daily to allow the leaves to absorb their expressed juice. To the chemical changes, mainly oxidation, which go on in this juice while it is exposed to the air, the characteristic aroma and flavour of Perique tobacco are mainly due.

Cuba.—Tobacco is the second industry of the country, the value of the crop being surpassed only by that of sugar. The cultivation was formerly a monopoly of the Spanish crown, but from 1817 payment of a tax, usually heavy, has been the only restriction. The superiority of Cuban tobaccos in favour and aroma, especially for cigar fillers, has long been recognized, but exactly to what conditions these qualities are due is not fully known. The leaf known as “Vuelta Abajo,” produced in the province of Pinar del Rio, is perhaps the best cigar leaf of the world. The other tobacco-producing provinces in order of importance are Havana, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba. The crop is mostly grown in the open, air-cured and carefully fermented. Cuban tobacco is grown as a “winter” crop, the summer months being those of high rainfall. Cultivation under shade was recently tried with satisfactory results; “166.65 acres cultivated under cheesecloth produced in 1903 10 bales of wrappers and 1.5 bales of fillers of tobacco per acre, the output under the old system having been 4.5 bales of tobacco per acre of which only 10% represented wrappers if good colour” (Diplomatic and Consular Report on Cuba, 1904, No. 3522).

Mexico.—is an important tobacco-producing country, and Mexican leaf is largely used in Europe for cigar wrappers and other purposes. Mexican tobacco approximates more or less closely to that of Cuba, and is cultivated and prepared in very similar ways.

France.—Tobacco cultivation is an important industry, and the home production is carried out under government supervision. In 1905, 53,750 planters cultivated 39,439 acres, and the total crop amounted to 61,614,900 lb, of the approximate value of £2,000,000. The variety grown is usually of the Virginia type, and the leaf is coarse, dark and heavy, and suited to the manufacture of plug and snuff.

Germany.—The chief tobacco-producing divisions are Baden and Alsace. The leaf is of medium size, heavy, and is mainly used in the manufacture of cigars.

Hungary.—produces tobacco of a rich, dark brown colour, useful for cigars, and also a small, bright yellow leaf, of value as a cigarette and pipe tobacco.

Russia.—In northern Russia the produce is mainly a large, coarse, heavy, dark leaf, of use only for the manufacture of plug and snuff. In southern and Asiatic Russia good tobacco of the Turkish type is produced.

Italy produces two principal types, a dark, heavy Virginian tobacco on the heavy soils of northern Italy, and a Turkish type tobacco on the sandy soils of the southern part of the country.

Syria.—The distinctive Latakia tobacco is produced in the province of Saida in northern Syria. The leaf is subjected to the smoke produced by burning in the green condition leafy branches of species of evergreen oaks (Quercus spp.). The process, of fumigation lasts from seven to nine months, and during it the tobacco acquires its black colour and peculiar flavour.

Greece.—Grecian tobacco is grown from Turkish seed and closely resembles Turkish tobacco in character and uses. Egyptian cigarettes are to a great extent made from Grecian tobacco. Paper is a monopoly in Greece, and Grecian cigarette manufacturers, to escape the monopoly, have transferred their business to Egypt, where they make cigarettes from Grecian tobaccos by the aid of Greek workmen.

Turkey.—Tobacco is an important crop in Turkey, where its cultivation and manufacture are monopolies. The ordinary tobacco and cigarette trade is controlled by the Regie Compagnie intéressée des tabacs de l'empire Ottoman, and Narquileh tobacco (called “tumbeki” and used in “hubble-bubbles”) is in the hands of a similar organization. The small Turkish leaf is famous throughout the world. Some of the finest flavoured tobaccos are produced in the regions around Cavalla in Macedonia and ancient Ephesus in Asia Minor. The cultivation of Turkish tobaccos has been taken up in various parts of the world, e.g. South Africa, and to maintain the standard of the produce fresh supplies of seed were obtained annually from Turkey. To guard against this competition, the export of tobacco seed from Turkey was prohibited in 1907. The method of cultivation in Turkey is simple, and the plants are set out close together. For the best qualities the leaves are primed, air-cured, and then subjected to a lengthy treatment corresponding to mild fermentation. High prices are obtained for the best Turkish tobaccos. Thus in 1906 from Cavalla and Xanthi 11,000 tons were exported of a value of about £1,101,000, the range of the various, qualities per kilo (2¹/₅ lb) being:—

Ghienbek 10s. 5d. to 16s. 0d.
Kir 4s. 10d. " 6s. 0d.
Pursuccian Manufacture 2s. 11d. " 3s. 9d.
Drama 2s. 0d. " 2s. 10d.
Inferior brands 0s. 7d. " 2s. 0d.

The exports go mainly to Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Italy, Egypt, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Japan—.Tobacco cultivation is a government monopoly, and in 1905 the crop amounted to about 106,572,000 lb, yielding a profit to the government of some £3,500,000. The produce is usually leaf of considerable size, of medium colour and suited only for cigarette and pipe smoking.

China.—The cultivation is widespread throughout Southern China. The picked leaves are usually either prepared for market by simple exposure to the sun for a few days, or in addition are sprinkled with groundnut oil and sometimes other materials also, which result in an increase of strength.

Sumaita.—The tobaccos of Sumatra are especially valued for outside wrappers of cigars, being very uniform, of fine texture, light brown colour, thin and elastic. They do not, however, possess the aroma essential to cigar-fillers. The industry is of quite recent growth, dating only from 1862. The famous tobacco region, about 15,000 sq. m. in area, is on the east coast of the island, almost directly on the equator, and has a very uniform and high temperature and a very high rainfall. The soil is mainly of volcanic origin. Deli is the principal district and produces the best tobaccos. The estates are usually very large, and are divided up into fields which are cultivated in rotation, each field being given several years rest after producing one crop. The tobacco is air-cured, fires being only employed during continuous wet weather, and the process of curing occupies four or five weeks. The fermentation is very carefully controlled, and to obtain the desired light colour the temperature is kept comparatively low. The leaves are graded with the most scrupulous care and finally packed in bales of about 176 lb each. The high quality of Sumatra tobacco is due in part to the local conditions of soil and climate, and perhaps to an even greater degree to the care taken at every stage in its cultivation and preparation. The work is done by Chinese coolies under European-chiefly Dutch-supervision. The commercial success of some of the companies has been very striking, dividends as high as 111% having been paid.

Java and Borneo tobacco is very similar to that of Sumatra.

The Philippines—.Tobacco is extensively cultivated in the plains and on the rich alluvial deposits along the sides of rivers. During recent years the average value of the product has fallen, due apparently to deterioration in quality. The exports of manufactured tobacco, such as Manila cheroots, find their principal market in China, British India, Australasia and the United Kingdom, whilst of the leaf tobacco fully three-quarters goes to Spain.

British Empire.—Tobacco is grown for local use in many parts of India, but the principal centres of its cultivation on a commercial scale are Bombay, Madras and the Punjab. American experts are frequently employed to superintend the estates and factories. In Ceylon tobacco is grown in the northern portion of the island; the produce is but little suited to the European market and is mainly exported to southern India and Cochin China.

British North Borneo competes with Sumatra as the source of the best cigar wrappers. The cultivation was begun in the island in 1883 by planters seeking new lands free from the heavy taxation to which they were subjected in Sumatra. The industry is now in the hands of three large companies, the survivors of some twenty or more which have started at various times. The greater portion of the most suitable land appears to be already under cultivation and there is little immediate prospect for much expansion of the industry. The annual value of tobacco exported is over, £300,000.

In Australia tobacco is produced on a small scale in Queensland, New South lWales and Victoria. Efforts are being made to develop the industry. New Zealand has attempted to produce tobacco as a commercial crop, but the effort was abandoned several years ago.

In the West Indies tobacco is grown on a small scale in many of the British colonies, but only in Jamaica is there a definite industry. An expert, Mr F. V. Chambers, recently reported on Jamaica tobacco as of good quality and flavour but often of a heavy nature. The shade-grown tobacco was, however, hardly likely for making wrappers to be excelled by any tobacco in the world.

In the British African possessions the outlook for tobacco cultivation is in several instances favourable. Rhodesian-grown Turkish tobacco is already on the English market, as also various brands of tobacco from the Transvaal. Natal and Cape Colony have also industries of considerable local importance. Tobacco cultivation has made considerable progress in Nyasaland (British Central Africa). In 1900 there were 69 acres under this crop, the yield being 4480 lb of the value of £113. In 1907 the acreage had increased to 2330, the yield to 413,316 lb, and the value to £6889 Flue-cured bright tobacco is principally produced, but sun-cured is also exported; and in 1906-1907 experiments with Turkish tobacco gave encouraging results.

Canada produces in Ontario and Quebec coarse Virginian type tobacco.


The constituents of tobacco, as of all other vegetable matter, can be grouped under three heads: water, mineral acids and bases (which pass into the ash on combustion) and organic substances. The following analyses of upper leaves made at the Connecticut state station, and recorded in Report No. 63, Office of Experiment Stations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, indicate the more important constituents and also the changes which take place during fermentation.

Unfermented. Fermented.
% %
Water 23.50 23.40
Ash 14.89 15.27
Nicotine 2.50 1.27
Nitric acid (N₂O₅) 1.89 1.97
Ammonia (NH₃) 0.67 0.71
Other nitrogenous matters 12.19 13.31
Fiber 7.90 8.78
Starch 3.20 3.36
Nitrogen free extract 29.39 27.99
Either extract 3.87 3.42

Nicotine (q.v.) (C₁₀H₁₄N₂) is a volatile alkaloid which appears to be present only in plants of the genus Nicotiana (see Nicotine ).


In the manufacture of tobacco for smoking, we have to do with the numerous forms of tobacco used for smoking in pipes, embracing cut smoking mixtures, cake or plug, and roll or spun tobacco. Under this heading come also the cigar and cigarette manufacture.

The raw material in the warehouses is of various qualities: some is strong, rough and harsh, and so is unfit for ordinary smoking; other samples are mild and fine, with aromatic and pleasant flavour, but devoid of strength. By a proper mixing and blending the manufacturer is enabled to prepare the smoking mixture which is desirable for his purpose; but certain of the rough, bitter qualities cannot be manufactured without a preliminary treatment by which their intense disagreeable taste is modified. The storing of such tobacco for a lengthened period matures and deprives it of harshness, and the same result may be artificially hastened by macerating the leaves in water acidulated with hydrochloric acid, and washing them out with pure water. The most efficient means, however, of improving strong, ill-tasting tobacco is by renewed fermentation artificially induced by moisture and heat.

The manufacturer having prepared his mixture of leaves, proceeds to damp them, pure water alone being used in the United Kingdom, whereas on the Continent and in America certain “sauces” are employed, which consist of mixtures of aromatic substances, sugar, liquorice, common salt and saltpetre, &c., dissolved in water. The primary object is to render the leaves soft and pliant; the use of the sauces is to improve the flavour and burning qualities of the leaves used. When uniformly damped, the leaves are separately opened out and smoothed, the midrib, if not already removed, is torn out, except when “bird's-eye” cut is to be made, in which mixture the midrib gives the peculiar “bird's-eye” appearance. The prepared tobacco, while still moist and pliant, is pressed between cylinders into a light cake, and cut into fine uniform shreds by a machine analogous to the chaff-cutter. The cut tobacco is now roasted, partly with the view of driving off moisture and bringing the material into a condition for keeping, but also partly to improve its smoking quality. The roasting is most simply effected by spreading it on heated slabs, on which it is constantly turned, or a roasting machine is used, consisting of a revolving drum in which the tobacco is rotated, gradually passing from one end to the other, and all the time under the influence of a current of heated air. The increase in favour of packet tobaccos has brought about the invention of elaborate packing machines.

For roll, twist or pigtail tobacco the raw materiail is damped or sauced as in the case of cut tobacco. The interior of the roll consists of small and broken leaf of various kinds, called “fillers”; and this is enclosed within an external covering of large whole leaf of bright quality, such leaves being called “covers.” The material is supplied to the twisting machinery by an attendant, and formed into a cord of uniform thickness, twisted and wound on a drum by mechanism analogous to that used in rope-spinning. From the drum of the twisting machine the spun tobacco is rolled into cylinders of various sizes. These are enclosed in canvas, and around the surface of each stout hempen cord is tightly and closely coiled. In this form a large number, after being cooked or stoved in moist heat for about twenty-four hours, are piled between plates in an hydraulic press, and subjected to great pressure for a month or six weeks, during which time a slow fermentation takes place, and a considerable exudation of juice results from the severe pressure. The juice is collected for use as a sheep-dip.

Cake or plug tobacco is made by enveloping the desired amount of fillers within covering leaves of a fine bright colour. The packages Cake Tobacco. are placed in moulds, and submitted to powerful pressure in an hydraulic press, by which they are moulded into solid cakes. Both cake and roll tobacco are equally used for smoking and chewing; for the latter purpose the cake is frequently sweetened with liquorice, and sold as honey-dew or sweet Cavendish.

For cigar-making the finest and most delicately flavoured qualities of tobacco are generally selected. A cigar consists of a core or Cigars. central mass of fillers enveloped in an inner and an outer cover, the former the binder and the latter the wrapper. The fillers or inner contents of the cigar must be of uniform quality, and so packed and distributed in a longitudinal direction that the tobacco may burn uniformly and the smoke can be freely drawn from end to end. For the binder whole leaf of the same quality as the fillers is used, but for the wrapper only selected leaves of the finest quality and colour, free from all injury, are employed. The covers are carefully cut to the proper size and shape with a sharp knife, and, after being damped and smoothed out are placed together in a pile. In making cigars by the hand, the operator rolls together a sufficient quantity of material to form the filling of one cigar, and experience enables him or her to select very uniform quantities. This quantity is wrapped in the inner cover, an oblong piece of leaf the length of the cigar to be made, and of width sufficient to enclose the whole material. The cigar is then rolled in the hand to consolidate the tobacco and bring it into proper shape, after which it is wrapped in the outer cover, a shaped piece made to enclose the whole in a spiral manner, beginning at the thick end of the cigar and working down to the pointed end, where it is dexterously finished by twisting to a fine point between the fingers. The finished cigars are either spread out in the sunlight to be dried, or exposed to a gentle heat. They are then sorted into qualities according to their colour, packed in boxes, in which they are stored for sale. Machinery is now employed for forming and moulding the nllings of the cheaper grades of cigars.

Havana cigars are, as regards form, classification, method of putting up and nomenclature, the models followed by manufacturers of all classes of the goods. Genuine (“legitimas”) Havana cigars are such only as are made in the island; and the cigars made in Europe and elsewhere from genuine Cuban tobacco are classed as “Havanas” Other brands of home manufacture contain some proportion of Cuban tobacco; and very good cigars may be made in which the name only of that highly-prized leaf is em loyed. When we come to the inferior classes of cigars, it can only [tie said that they may be made from any kind of leaf, the more ambitious imitations being treated with various sauces designed to give them a Havana flavour. The highest class of Cuban-made cigars, called “vegueras,” are prepared from the very finest Vuelta Abajo leaf, rolled when it is just half dry, and consequently never damped with water at all. Next come the “regalias,” similarly made of the best Vuelta Abajo tobacco; and it is only the lower qualities, “ordinary regalias,” which are commonly found in commerce, the finer, and the “vegueras,” being exceedingly high-priced. The cigars, when dry, are carefully sorted according to strength, which is estimated by their colour, and classed in a scale of increasing strength as clam, colorado clara, maduro and oscuro. They are pressed into the cigar boxes for sale, and branded with the name or trade mark of their makers, Cheroots differ from ordinary cigars only in shape, being either in the form of a truncated cone, or of uniform thickness throughout, but always having both ends open and sharply cut across. Cheroots come principally from Mani a, but there are now lar e quantities imported into the United Kingdom from the East Indies and Burma.

Cigarettes consist of small rolls of fine cut tobacco wrapped in a covering of thin tough paper specially made for such use. Originality Cigarettes. cigarettes were entirely prepared by the smoker himself; but now they are very largely made by automatic machinery. The machines cut the paper, gum its edge, measure out the proper quantity of tobacco, wrap it up, make the gummed edge adhere, and cut the ends. In other machines a roll of narrow paper, in width equal to the circumference of the cigarette, is converted into a long tube, filled with tobacco, and automatically cut off into proper lengths. Such machines can make several hundred cigarettes per hour. The best cigarettes, however, are made by hand; the tobacco leaves are selected and hand-cut, and the paper tubes are filled by hand.

The manufacture of snuff is the most complex, tedious and difficult undertaking of the tobacco manufacture, but it is now of but little Snuff. mportance. The tobacco best suited for snuff-mak1ng is thick fleshy leaf of a dark colour, but scraps and waste pieces resulting from the preparation of smoking mixtures and cigars, and the midribs of leaves are largely used. The material is moistened with a solution of common salt and placed in very large heaps to ferment for some weeks. Various favouring materials, such as liquorice, tonka beans (Dipteryx odorala) and other ingredients are added, the natures of which are often trade secrets. The mass is dried, ground, and allowed to ferment again, the process being repeated if necessary. The peculiar properties of snuff are dependent on the presence of free nicotine, free ammonia and the aromatic principles developed during fermentation.

Fiscal Restrictions.

In nearly all civilized countries the cultivation of tobacco and its manufacture are conducted under state supervision and form an important source of public revenue. In some, for instance, France, Austria-Hungary and Italy, the cultivation is a state monopoly, and in other countries the crop is subject to heavy excise duties. Since the time of Charles II. the growth of tobacco in Great Britain has been practically prohibited, the original enactment to that effect having been passed to encourage trade with the young colony of Virginia. In 1886 experiments were conducted, under certain restrictions, and the plant was grown in Norfolk, Kent and other counties with sufficient success to prove the entire practicability of raising tobacco as a commercial crop in England. In more recent years tobacco has been grown in Ireland, but up to 1910 it had been found impracticable to obtain from the government sufficient relaxation from fiscal restrictions to encourage the home cultivation, though in 1907 the prospect of licences being issued was held out.


The following table, taken from the Year Book of the U.S. Department of A agriculture, 1906, indicates the crops of tobacco in 1905 in the regions mentioned, so far as figures are available. 1905.

North America 721,492,000 lb
South America 108,575,000 "
Europe 630,133,000 "
Asia 600,161,000 "
Africa 23,346,000 "
Australia and Fiji 1,486,000 "
Total 2,175,193,000 lb.

The estimated value of the world's annual crop is approximately £40,000,000.

Consumption of Tobacco.—The comparative consumption of tobacco in various countries is best appreciated by expressing it in pounds per head, and the following figures are taken from Bartholomew's Atlas of The World's Commerce: Belgium 6.21 lb, United States 5.40 lb, Germany 3.44 lb, Austria 3.02 lb, Australasia 2.20 lb, Canada 2.54 lb, Hungary 2.42 lb, France 2.16 lb, United Kingdom 1.95 lb, Russia 1.10 lb.

The literature of tobacco is very extensive. William Bragge of Birmingham published in 1880 a revised bibliography of the subject, Bibliotheca nicotiana, extending to 248 quarto pages. From such a mass of authorities it would be vain here to make selections, but mention may be made of Fairholt's capital gossiping work, Tobacco, its History and Associations (2nd ed., 1876). As modern standard works there may also be quoted Tiedemann's Geschichte des Tabaks (1856) and Wagner's Tabakcultur, Tabak- und Cigarren-Fabrication (1884). In the foregoing account various passages from the article by J. Paton and W. Dittmar, in the 9th ed. of the Ency. Brit., have been utilized.  (W. G. F.)