Tobacco and Western Culture

The use of tobacco dates back to the 17th century. The primary reason for its beginning was purely economic at first. It later became apparent to researchers over the decades that tobacco was more than just a commodity to be traded for economic gain. It was actually a drug, nicotine, which developed into physical dependency and had adverse side effects as people began to live longer. Further research at the social level, revealed its social impact on the western culture. It didn’t take long before early traders began to realize the economic benefits of trading obacco as a primary cash crop. Its known influences were completely overlooked to maintain the desired income and trade benefits. In western culture, early settlers, saw tobacco as a primary source of support for the family. It was entirely possible to grow tobacco and live a very good lifestyle.

During the early years, tobacco was not seen as a bad thing. Instead, it was actually a way of life. As time passed, govermental agencies also began to see the economic benefits produced by the tobacco industry. Taxing the crop ecame very lucrative and later resulted in subsidizing the farmers as needed to maintain taxation levels. The advent of production cigarrettes soon opened doors for manufacturers which hadn’t existed before. A cheap and easy method of providing tobacco users a manageable product soon led to widespread use in the western world. This attitude soon began to chang! e, however, as researchers began publishing reports on the ill effects of smoking and tobacco use. Tobacco lost a lot of its social influence when people began to understand its physical effects.

Tobacco use was linked with birth defects in pregnant women. Lung cancer was directly linked to smoking in 1950 by the Cancer Control Department in the New York State Health department. It became very clear that the past opposition to smoking and tobacco use was substantiated. It had also become clear that smokers were in a group alone from the rest of society. Just as other groups grew and shrank with the times, so would the smokers. Nicotine had been discovered to be the dependency factor in tobacco and soon ranked a classification with other social drugs like alcohol and caffeine.

Its use was seen to be just as severe as these and warranted just as much focus in the social arena. This didn’t stop people from using tobacco. The reasons for tobacco use had already become more complex than just physically damaging. Tobacco use had grown to be a social instrument. It can be easily proven that people smoke for different reasons. Stress is now a large part of society and nictotine tends to reduce the stress factor. There have also been reports of the soothing effects nicotine provides during times of prolonged strain on the brain.

This is typically due to long hours of reading or studying. The ability of nicotine to soothe the mind allows the brain more concentration and thus the individual is able to more easily comprehend the task at hand. Despite the good and bad effects of tobacco use, it still continues today and I feel that it will be some time before smoking is completely removed from society. Actually, it’s not half bad considering the alternatives of the 21st century. Consider pulling up in your car next to someone at a stop light smoking a cigarette and think about seeing someone smoking marijuana.

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