Some 130,000 U.S. farms grow tobacco, primarily in the southern states,
and for many growers it constitutes their primary cash crop. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture includes tobacco in its price support system, both because of its economic
significance to the South--it is the seventh-largest U.S. cash crop--and because for many
years it has been an important export commodity. American cigarette manufacturers also
play a major part in the U.S. economy, earning millions from their domestic and their
Fears of the health effects of long-term use of tobacco cut per capita cigarette consumption in the United States by 30 percent between 1970 and 1990, with only 28 percent of the population--the lowest level ever measured--now counting themselves as smokers. Antismoking campaigns, health warnings on cigarette packets, and demands from nonsmokers for smoke-free environments have contributed to the diminishing numbers of smokers, as have state laws restricting smoking in public places and in workplaces. European countries have also enacted antismoking legislation. Britain has required health warnings on cigarette packs since 1971; Italy bans smoking in many public areas; France prohibits all cigarette advertising.
The tobacco industry has never publicly acknowledged a direct connection between the ingestion of tobacco smoke and the development of such ailments as lung cancer or cardiovascular disease. Although there have been injury suits against cigarette companies, no plaintiff has received damages for injuries suffered after 1969, the year warning labels were first required on cigarette packs. In 1992, however, the Supreme Court ruled that smokers could sue charging fraud if they could prove that a tobacco company concealed information about the hazards of smoking.
Nevertheless, the U.S. tobacco industry has maintained its prosperity, nourished by the millions of Americans who continue to use tobacco and by markedly increased consumption in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
History - Cultivation - Aging - Curing
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