1492-10-12: Columbus Discovers Tobacco; “Certain Dried Leaves” are received as gifts and thrown way.
1585: Sir Francis Drake introduces smoking to Sir Walter Raleigh (BD)
1600: European cultivation of tobacco begins
1600: Sir Walter Raleigh persuades Queen Elizabeth to try smoking
1603: Physicians, upset that tobacco is being used by people without a physician’s prescription; complain to King James I.(TSW)
1614: King James I makes the import of tobacco a Royal monopoly, available for a yearly fee of £14,000.
1619: Tobacco is used as currency. It will continue to be used for 200 years in Virginia, for 150 years in Maryland.
1634: Czar Alexis creates penalties for smoking: 1st offense is whipping, a slit nose, and transportation to Siberia. 2nd offense is execution. (TSW) (BD)
1636: Tabacalera is created, the oldest tobacco company in the world.
1665-66: During the Great Plague, smoking tobacco is thought to have a protective effect. Smoking is made compulsory at Eton to ward off infection.
1689-1725: Peter the Great advocates smoking, repeals bans.
1775 King George III’s wife is known as “Snuffy Charlotte”
1776: Along “Tobacco Coast” (the Chesapeake), the Revolutionary War was variously known as “The Tobacco War.” Growers had found themselves perpetually in debt to British merchants; by 1776, growers owed the mercantile houses millions of pounds. British tobacco taxes are a further grievance.
1776: Tobacco helps finance the Revolution by serving as collateral for the loan Benjamin Franklin won from France–the security was 5 million pounds of Virginia tobacco. During the war, the fledgling government used tobacco exports to build up credits abroad. And, when the war was over, Americans turned to tobacco taxes to help repay the Revolutionary War debt.
1779: Pope Benedict XII opens a tobacco factory
1839: A young slave accidentally discovers the high heat curing process that turns the tobacco golden, and imbues it with a mild, buttery taste, the bright-leaf tobacco.
1873: Myers Brothers and Co. markets “Love” tobacco with theme of North-South Civil War reconciliation.
1874: Washington Duke, with his sons Benjamin N. Duke and James Buchanan Duke, builds his first tobacco factory.
1875: Allen and Ginter offer a reward of $75,000 for a cigarette rolling machine. (LB)
1875: R. J. Reynolds founds R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company.
1878: J.E. Liggett & Brother incorporates as Liggett & Myers Company. By 1885 Liggett is the world’s largest plug tobacco manufacturer.
1881: James Buchanan (“Buck”) Duke enters the manufactured cigarette business.
1889: The five leading cigarette firms, including W. Duke Sons & Company, unite. “Buck” Duke emerges as the president of the new American Tobacco Company.
1894: Brown & Williamson formed as a partnership in Winston-Salem, NC, making mostly plug, snuff and pipe tobacco. (RK).
1899: Liggett & Myers taken into Duke’s Tobacco Trust. Duke has finally won the Bull Durham brand of chew.
1899: RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company incorporates.
1900: RJ Reynolds reluctantly folds his company into Duke’s Tobacco Trust
1902: Philip Morris sets up a corporation on Broad St. in New York to sell its British brands, including one named “Marlboro.”
1911 Duke’s American Tobacco Co. controls 92% of the world’s tobacco business.
1911-05-29: “Trustbusters” break up American Tobacco Co. The major companies to emerge are American Tobacco, R.J. Reynolds, Liggett & Myers, Lorillard, and British-American (BAT).
1913: Birth of the “modern” cigarette: R. J. Reynolds introduces Camel.
1916: To compete with Camel, American introduces Lucky Strike, the name referenced the Gold Rush days. On the package, the motto: “It’s Toasted!” (like all other cigarettes).
1917-18: U.S. joins World War I. Cigarette rations determined by market share, a great boost to Camel. An entire generation returns from the war addicted to cigarettes. General Pershing accuses those opposed to sending cigarettes to the doughboys of being traitors.
1919: George Whelan Tobacco Products picks up tiny U.S. Philip Morris. The new Philip Morris & Company, Ltd. Inc, is incorporated in Richmond, VA.
1922: RJR takes Industry leadership. from American for the first time. (RK)
1924: Philip Morris introduces Marlboro, a women’s cigarette that is “Mild as May”
1924: James B. Duke creates Duke University.
1926: Lorillard introduces Old Gold cigarettes with expensive campaigns. “Not a Cough in a Carload.”
1926: Liggett & Myers’ Chesterfield targets women for second-hand smoke in “Blow some my way” ad. There is a public outcry.
1927: George Washington Hill aims Lucky Strike advertising at women for the first time. The smoking rate among adolescent females triples between 1925-1935.
1929: Philip Morris buys a factory in Richmond, Virginia, and begins manufacturing its own cigarettes.
1930: Federal tax revenues from tobacco products are over $500 million, 80% from cigarettes.
1931-06: Cigarette Price Wars begin. They sell for 14 cents a pack, 2-for-27 cents in the depths of the Great Depression.
1933: Chesterfield runs ads in the New York State Journal of Medicine, with claims like, “Just as pure as the water you drink . . . and practically untouched by human hands.”
1933-04-17: Bellboy Johnny Roventini first goes on the radio, his distinctive voice making the famous, “Call for Philip Morris.”
1939: Fortune magazine finds 53% of adult American males smoke; 66% of males under 40 smoke.
1939-1945: In World War II, Roosevelt makes tobacco a protected crop. Cigarettes are included in GI’s C-Rations. By the end of the war, cigarette sales are at an all-time high.
1941: RJR: Camel smoke-ring billboard becomes a Times Square landmark for the next twenty-five years.
1942: Brown & Williamson claims that Kools would keep the head clear and/or give extra protection against colds.
1946: RJR begins “More Doctors Smoke Camels” ad campaign.
1951: Consumers in many countries now spend from 3-5% of their total income on tobacco products,
1952: Lorillard introduces Kent cigarettes, with the “Micronite” filter, boasts that the filter offers “the greatest health protection in cigarette history.” Its secret: asbestos.
1953: Benson & Hedges’ Parliament sales skyrocket due to its filter.
1954: RJR introduces its Winston filter-tipped brand, emphasizing taste, not health.
1954: Philip Morris buys Benson & Hedges, and gets its president, Joseph Cullman III.
1956: RJR introduces Salem, the first filter-tipped menthol cigarette.
1957: Joseph Cullman, III, becomes president of Philip Morris
1960: FDA is authorized to regulate substances that are hazardous.
1960: Pall Mall becomes the nation’s top-selling brand. Its reign runs from 1960 to 1966.
1964: Surgeon General’s Report links smoking and lung cancer.
1964: Marlboro Country ad campaign is launched. Sales begin growing 10% a year.
1965: 29.6% of people who ever smoked had quit as of 1965.
1965-09: Japan Tobacco begins providing free cigarettes to elderly residents of nursing homes on “Respect for the Aged Day” holiday. The practice becomes a tradition.
1966: RJR’s filter-tip Winston becomes top-selling cigarette in the US
1967: Philip Morris reorganizes its corporate structure to create Philip Morris Inc. and three operating companies: Philip Morris Domestic; Philip Morris International; and Philip Morris Industrial.
1967: Joseph F. Cullman III is appointed chairman and CEO of Philip Morris Inc.
1968. Philip Morris introduces Virginia Slims, aimed at women
1969: Philip Morris gains a controlling interest (53%) in the Miller Brewing Company.
1971-04: Cigarette manufacturers agree to put health warnings on advertisements. This agreement is later made into law.
1972: Marlboro becomes the best-selling cigarette in the world
1983: U.S. Tobacco introduces Skoal Bandits — a starter product, with the tobacco contained in a pouch like a teabag.
1985: Philip Morris buys food and coffee giant General Foods (Post’s cereal, Jell-O, Maxwell House Coffee) for $5.6 billion.
1985: RJ Reynolds Industries buys Nabisco Brands.
1986: Ex-Standard Brands/Nabisco head Ross Johnson takes control of RJR.
1987: Ross Johnson attempts a leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco.
Borio, Gene. “The Tobacco Timeline.” 2001. http://grace4life.com/History_of_Tobacco-by_Gene_Borio.pdf