Tobacco is a member of the Nicotiana family and its leaves have been cured and processed and subsequently chewed, anointed, inhaled and smoked ever since it was discovered by native americans.
According to plant geneticists tobacco originated somewhere in the Andes between 5,000 and 3,000 B.C. and eventually its use spread to the rest of America where various species developed particular to each climate.
Among Native Americans tobacco was used as part of a ritual, no powwow was complete without a smoking pipe going around-. Witch doctors or shamans in South America used tobacco to purify themselves when treating diseases caused by evil forces. It helped them to "see" better.
Tobacco was highly regarded by the indigenous American people, it was even used as a form of currency, it was part of life's small daily ceremonies.
But from the moment tobacco reached the Old World, thanks to the conquistadors, it never ceased to cause controversy. At times its use was punishable by death and at others it helped finance revolutions . Tobacco in a large scale has proved to be too lucrative to scorn, billions have been poured into the tobacco industry to the detriment of everyone's well being.
But going back to the native americans and their rational use of tobacco: It's as much of a ritual to sit out in the porch, after a long day's work, and puff away at your personal blend of heirloom tobacco while the world goes by.. It's a totally different experience and quite frankly I deeply resent people telling me not to have my one little pleasure of the day.