Monday, October 25, 2010

Nicotiana tabacum

     I think the topic is fitting seeing that today marks the start of Red Ribbon Week at school.  For those that do not know, Nicotiana tabacum is the scientific name for tobacco.  Tobacco's influence on Europeans goes back to times before colonial Virginia during the first voyage to the New World by Columbus.  Several of Columbus' crew thought it was quite odd to see the natives smoking rolled up leaves.  Some of the crew decided to try it and liked it so much that they took it back to Europe with them.  Within about twenty or so years, the fad caught on in the Old World that it fueled the desire to colonize the Western Hemisphere.
     After the successful establishment of Jamestown, tobacco farms began popping up in the area as more and more settlers came to Virginia.  The year that Plymouth was founded, 1620, Virginia was exporting 119,000 pounds of tobacco back to Britain.  The demand grew more and more for the plant that by the end of the 17th century, Europe was importing more than twenty-five million pounds of tobacco.  Up until the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, tobacco was the largest cash crop in the southern colonies/states.
     Now for some interesting facts about tobacco.  First, a link between smoking and cancer was not proven until the 20th century.  Second, King James I, whom is the namesake for the first colony in Virginia, hated smoking so much that he had a pamphlet published attacking the habit.  Third, Jamestown's most famous tobacco farmer was one John Rolfe, husband of Pocahontas.  Lastly, the addictive drug that is found in tobacco, nicotine, is so toxic that it is used as an insecticide.
     Other than the fact that smoking gives a person bad breath, makes their teeth yellow, can cause cancer, and ages a person faster, it is USED TO KILL INSECTS!  The best advice I can give, kids...and probably adults too, is in order to not get addicted to smoking, DON'T START.  It is not cool, it is not smart, and it is not cool and not smart.

Source of information: The Intellectual Devotional: American History by Kidder and Oppenheim, pg. 4

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