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Brown Gold: The Tobacco Industry

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The tobacco industry comprises those persons and companies engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment, advertisement, and distribution of tobacco and tobacco-related products. It is a global industry; tobacco can grow in any warm, moist environment, which means it can be farmed on all continents except Antarctica.

Tobacco, one of the most widely used addictive substances in the world, is a plant native to the Americas and historically one of the half-dozen most important crops grown by American farmers. More specifically, tobacco refers to any of various plants of the genus Nicotiana (especially N. tabacum) native to tropical America and widely cultivated for their leaves, which are dried and processed chiefly for smoking in pipes, cigarettes, and cigars; it is also cut to form chewing tobacco or ground to make snuff or dipping tobacco, as well as other less common preparations. From 1617 to 1793 tobacco was the most valuable staple export from the English American mainland colonies and the United States. Until the 1960s, the United States not only grew but also manufactured and exported more tobacco than any other country.

Tobacco is an agricultural commodity product, similar in economic terms to agricultural foodstuffs: the price is in part determined by crop yields, which vary depending on local weather conditions. The price also varies by specific species or cultivar grown, the total quantity on the market ready for sale, the area where it is grown, the health of the plants, and other characteristics individual to product quality.

Since 1964 conclusive medical evidence of the deadly effects of tobacco consumption has led to a sharp decline in official support for producers and manufacturers of tobacco, although it contributes to the agricultural, fiscal, manufacturing, and exporting sectors of the economy. Laws around the world now often have some restrictions on smoking, but almost 6 trillion cigarettes are still produced each year, representing over a 12% increase since the year 2000. China accounts for over 40% of current world production. Tobacco is often heavily taxed to gain revenues for governments and as an incentive for people not to smoke. Tobacco kills more than 8 million people worldwide every year according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The scope of this project is to show where tobacco is grown, the companies and slaveholders that profit(ed) and the slaves who farmed it. If you have anyone in your family who is or was involved in the tobacco industry, please add them to the project.

Some occupations in the industry might include: The making of cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, smoking tobacco, and snuff from leaf tobacco. Harvesting, drying, curing, aging, cutting, rolling, forming, bulking, prizing and packaging. Also, any labourer, such as a weigher, machine operator, cooker, shredder, grinder, screener or factory worker.

The History of Tobacco Around the World

Tobacco Companies World Map

List of Cigarette Brands

List of Pipe Tobacco Brands

List of Smokeless Tobacco Brands

The Top Tobacco Producing States in the USA:

  1. North Carolina
  2. Kentucky
  3. Georgia
  4. Virginia
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Ohio

Famous People of the Industry

  • John Rolfe was the first settler in America to successfully raise tobacco for commercial use.
  • Richard Joshua Reynolds aka R.J. Reynolds, a tobacco farmer, founded R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which became the second largest tobacco company in the US.
  • Philip Morris was a tobaccanist whose name was used later for Philip Morris & Co. Ltd. Philip Morris is now known as Altria Group, Inc. and is the largest tobacco manufacturer in the US and the world.
  • Pierre Lorillard, II was the son of tobaccanist Pierre Lorillard, I and original founder of P. Lorillard Company. Lorillard is the oldest tobacco company in the US, dating to 1760.

Tobacco Plantation Owners & Tobacco Lords (Please add others not on the list)

Pres. George Washington Plantation Owner

Pres. Thomas Jefferson Plantation Owner

Andrew Buchanan of Drumpellier, Lord Provost of Glasgow

Archibald Ingram, Lord Provost of Glasgow

Andrew Cochrane, Lord Provost of Glasgow

John Glassford of Dougalston

William Cunninghame, Tobacco merchant and slave trader

George Bogle of Daldowie, Tobacco Lord


Merchants of Death: The American Tobacco Industry

Smokescreen: The Truth Behind the Tobacco Industry Cover-Up

Tobacco Industry Marketing

Tobacco Control

The Rebound of the Tobacco Market (Wall Street Journal) article

The Tobacco Market in India

China Tobacco

The South African Tobacco Industry

Tobacco in Australia

The UK Tobacco Industry

Tobacco in Russia

Tobacco in Latin America

Tobacco in the Middle East & Africa

Tobacco in the American Colonies

The European Tobacco Trade from the 15th-17th Centuries

Tobacco Control in Europe

Smoking In the Philippines