History of Tobacco

Originating in the Bolivian Andes, tobacco is present in the society for at least six centuries

The use of tobacco is present in the history of the society at least since century XV, having been, throughout the time, consumed at different forms. It is believed that tobacco is a plant of the Bolivian Andes, where it was used by indigenous tribes.

It was precisely through the indigenous migration that the plant arrived in Brazil. Tobacco had sacredness and was used in rituals or for medicinal purposes. Its use was given in different ways: eating, drinking, chewing and aspired, but the main one was smoking.

Europeans had contact with the plant for the first time in 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived to America. According to historians, in November of that year, Europeans knew the indigenous smoking.

However, nearly four decades were needed for the plant to arrive in Europe. In 1530, tobacco started to be cultivated by the Portuguese royal family, originally for medicinal purposes.

This was how the plant arrived in France in 1560. Then, the French ambassador in Portugal, Jean Nicot, sent tobacco to Queen Catherina de Medici to treat her migraine. She would have  started to smoke, which was quickly spread among the French nobility, and later among  other countries of Europe.

In the same period, the Portuguese colonists began growing tobacco in crops in Brazil for personal consumption. The surplus was marketed in Europe. Initially, production was concentrated in the Reconcavo Baiano, from Salvador (BA) to Recife (PE).

During the seventeenth century, tobacco has become one of the main export products of the Portuguese Empire. Crops, however, expanded rapidly only after the Proclamation of Independence in 1822.

BAT Brasil became part of the history of tobacco in 1903, when the young Portuguese immigrant Albino Souza Cruz put into operation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the first machine to produce cigarettes already wrapped in paper.

The success of the product was quick and forced Albino to expand the production. In 1910, BAT Brasil bought the imposing Imperial Factory of Snuff Paulo Cordeiro, at Rua Conde de Bonfim, in the woods of Tijuca, and installed its first factory.

But it took more resources and technology contribution to the company to accelerate its growth rate. And to achieve these goals, in 1914, Albino Souza Cruz transformed the company into a corporation, passing the shareholding control to the British American Tobacco group.