Tobacco

Tobacco
DunhillLightFlake.jpg
Tobacco flakes, sliced from pressed plugs
Product nameTobacco
Source plant(s)Nicotiana
Part(s) of plantLeaf
Geographic originThe Americas
Active ingredientsNicotine, harmine
UsesRecreational
Legal status
  • AU: Unscheduled
  • CA: Unscheduled. 18+ (Federal)
  • UK: 16+ (Public Possession) 18+ (Purchase)
  • US: 18+ only in most states[1]
  • UN: Unscheduled
  • EU: Unscheduled
  • See tobacco control
Tobacco drying kiln in Myrtleford, Victoria, Australia, 2018. This kiln was built in 1957, and moved to Rotary Park in 2000. Kilns of this structure were made from the early 1930s through to the late 1960s.
Basma tobacco leaves drying in the sun at Pomak village in Xanthi, Greece

Tobacco is the common name of several plants in the Nicotiana genus and the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, and the general term for any product prepared from the cured leaves of the tobacco plant. More than 70 species of tobacco are known, but the chief commercial crop is N. tabacum. The more potent variant N. rustica is also used around the world.

Tobacco contains the stimulant alkaloid nicotine as well as harmala alkaloids.[2] Dried tobacco leaves are mainly used for smoking in cigarettes, cigars, pipes, shishas as well as e-cigarettes (both rechargeable and disposable), e-cigars, e-pipes and vaporizers. They can also be consumed as snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco and snus.

Tobacco use is a risk factor for many diseases; especially those affecting the heart, liver, and lungs, as well as many cancers. In 2008, the World Health Organization named tobacco use as the world's single greatest preventable cause of death.[3]

Etymology

The English word "tobacco" originates from the Spanish and Portuguese word "tabaco". The precise origin of this word is disputed, but it is generally thought to have derived at least in part, from Taino, the Arawakan language of the Caribbean. In Taino, it was said to mean either a roll of tobacco leaves (according to Bartolomé de las Casas, 1552) or to tabago, a kind of L-shaped pipe used for sniffing tobacco smoke (according to Oviedo; with the leaves themselves being referred to as cohiba).[4][5]

However, perhaps coincidentally, similar words in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian were used from 1410 to define medicinal herbs believed to have originated from the Arabic طُبّاق ṭubbāq (also طُباق ṭubāq), a word reportedly dating to the 9th century, as a name for various herbs.[6][7]