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The first report of a smoking Englishman is of a sailor in Bristol in 1556, seen "emitting smoke from his nostrils".Tobacco was introduced around 1600 by French merchants in what today is modern-day Gambia and Senegal.The demand quickly grew as tobacco, referred to as "brown gold", revived the Virginia joint stock company from its failed gold expeditions.In order to meet demands from the Old World, tobacco was grown in succession, quickly depleting the soil.Tobacco smoking is the practice of smoking tobacco and inhaling tobacco smoke (consisting of particle and gaseous phases).(A more broad definition may include simply taking tobacco smoke into the mouth, and then releasing it, as is done by some with tobacco pipes and cigars.) The practice was believed to begin as early as 5000–3000 BC.
By the mid-17th century most major civilizations had been introduced to tobacco smoking and in many cases had already assimilated it into the native culture, despite some continued attempts upon the parts of rulers to eliminate the practice with penalties or fines.
The smoking of tobacco and various hallucinogenic drugs was used to achieve trances and to come into contact with the spirit world.
Eastern North American tribes would carry large amounts of tobacco in pouches as a readily accepted trade item and would often smoke it in Ceremonial pipes, either in sacred ceremonies or to seal bargains.
Apart from smoking, tobacco had a number of uses as medicine.
As a pain killer it was used for earache and toothache and occasionally as a poultice.
In Edo period Japan, some of the earliest tobacco plantations were scorned by the shogunate as being a threat to the military economy by letting valuable farmland go to waste for the use of a recreational drug instead of being used to plant food crops.