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Cigarettes imageThe indian tribes of central and northern America were among the first users of the tobacco plant. Indians as early as 600 A.D. smoked tobacco. For many of these tribes tobacco was smoked during religious ceremonies using a pipe and was not used on a regular basis. Indians also smoked tobacco in pipes for medicinal purposes.

When early explorers began coming to America it was noted that tobacco was a valuable crop to the natives of the country. Many of these explorers, including Christopher Columbus were given tobacco as a gift by the Native Americans. Though these explorers brought the tobacco leaves and seeds back to europe with them its use did become popular until the early 1600s.

When the use of tobacco related products became popular, early American colonist began cultivating it their first cash crop. Eventually it became the colonist largest export. It was also the greatest source of income for the original settlers Jamestown, Virginia. The revenue derived from selling tobacco aided in funding the revolutionary war. Tobacco was even a cash crop for our very first president George Washington.

Chewing tobacco, smoking or hand rolling tobacco cigarettes became increasingly popular in the 1800s. However, at the time daily use was not common. The need for more crop and faster production eventually lead to the use of slaves in America. In the late 1800s the first commercial cigarette was made and was originally sold to civil war soldiers.

Later in 1881 a cigarette making machine was created and the first cigarette factory was opened. The first commercial cigarette brand was called Duke and Durham. Initially sales for the first commercial cigarette company were around 10 million cigarettes the first year the factory was open, but within five years one billion cigarettes were sold commercially. This company was owned the son by the maker of the first commercial cigarette Buck Duke and the maker of the first cigarette making machine James Bonsack.

The First American Tobacco Company Eventually, Buck Duke and his father started the first American tobacco company. They called the company The American Tobacco Company. Their Company reigned supreme until the the early 1900s when Philip Morris Created the Marlboro brand cigarette. By the mid 1900s cigarette production had reached 300 billion annually.

Celebrities, Politicians, Santa, Children and Cartoon Characters

In the early to mid 1900s, celebrities, politicians, and cartoon characters were routinely used to sell cigarettes. In this article from The New York Times, a reporter talks about a new exhibit that explores the checkered history of tobacco marketing, from blatantly false "facts" to the advertisers' desire to win over consumers at a young age. The exhibit explores the way cigarette advertising has and hasn't changed.

But how about doctors and other medical professionals, proclaiming the merits of various cigarette brands? Or politicians? What about cartoon characters in cigarette ads? Or children? Babies? Even Santa Claus?

Those images — some flabbergasting, even disturbing — were also used by Madison Avenue to peddle tobacco products. An exhibit that opens on Tuesday in New York presents cigarette ads from the 1920s through the early 1950s in an effort to demonstrate what has changed since then — and what may not have.

The exhibit, of hundreds of print ads and television commercials, is titled “Not a Cough in a Carload: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking.” The first part of the title is borrowed from a slogan for Old Gold cigarettes, a brand that subsequently boasted in its ads of being “made by tobacco men, not medicine men.”

Small Print Camels Santa - Season's Greetings: "There's an added pleasure in giving Camels at Christmas. You know your gift will be so genuinely welcome. More smokers prefer Camels than any other cigarette. And that preference holds for men in the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and the Coast Guard, too! So remember those lads in uniform... remember all the cigarette smokers on your list... with the cigarette of costlier tobaccos - Camels. Choice of the two holiday packages above."