1492: Columbus, having sailed the ocean blue, notices Indians smoking and thus becomes the first known European to encounter tobacco. Indians take pains to look "cool" while smoking so as to exact a small measure of revenge for their coming annihilation.
1556: The fashion-forward French become the first Europeans to take to smoking.
1557: By now, European doctors are recommending smoking to combat bad breath and cancer. That's right: bad breath and cancer.
1607: King James I publishes a scathing indictment of smoking, calling it a "vile custom" and a "filthy novelty" that is "dangerous to the lungs." Tobacco company executives promptly swear before the king's court that there is absolutely no proof that smoking is vile, filthy, a custom, or a novelty, let alone dangerous to the lungs.
1610: Sir Francis Bacon notes that it is kind of hard to quit smoking.
We're just going to skip ahead here 384 years to:
Photo: Stephen Crowley
1994: Seven tobacco executives swear before the United States Congress that nicotine is not addictive.
Now, back to our timeline:
1624: Pope Urban VII threatens to excommunicate those who snort snuff because sneezing is too similar to orgasm. (Really.)
1724: Pope Benedict XIII, a smoker, overturns Urban's ban on tobacco.
1761: British scientist John Hill publishes the first study to point out that ever since people started snorting snuff, there seems to be a lot of nose cancer floating around.
1776: American tobacco is used as collateral for French loans, helping to pay for the American Revolution.
1890: Per capita, American adults chew three pounds of tobacco annually.
1912: Dr. Isaac Adler publishes research that, for the first time, argues strongly that smoking may cause lung cancer. Tobacco company executives race to Dr. Adler's house and swear on a stack of Bibles that smoking does no such thing.
From: Tobacco Documents
1921: Tobacco marketing has kicked into high gear: R. J. Reynolds spends $8 million on advertising, promoting their slogan "I'd Walk a Mile for a Camel" (And, Boy, Would I Be Out of Breath).
1940: Per capita, American adults smoke 2,558 cigarettes per year (more than 7 per day).
1950: Three major studies definitely prove that smoking causes lung cancer.
1963: After trying out a tattooed sailor, Philip Morris settles on a cowboy as the Marlboro Man. Beginning in 1975, the Marlboro Man is played by Wayne McLaren, who dies in 1992 at the age of 51 from lung cancer.
1966: First Surgeon General's Warnings appear on cigarette packages in the United States.
1971: TV and radio tobacco ads for cigarettes disappear as a result of 1969 legislation.
2004: Despite extensive anti smoking efforts, tobacco smoke still kills about 440,000 Americans every year.
From mental_floss' book Scatterbrained, published in Neatorama with permission.
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