What is tobacco and what does it contain? Here, we will tell you more about the history of tobacco, how it is produced and what it is exactly. As a large, global company, we at Philip Morris constantly work to ensure our tobacco suppliers provide good working conditions and counteract child labour, more of which you can read about here.
What is tobacco?
Tobacco is produced from the leaves of tobacco plants, which belong to the nightshade family. The plants are cultivated by seeds that are sown in greenhouses or hotbeds and then planted in large fields. When the plants are about a year old, the leaves are harvested and then cured and pressed for products such as cigarettes, snuff and heatsticks, which are used with our IQOS.
The following countries produce the most tobacco in the world:
The History of Tobacco
In 1492, Christofer Columbus was offered tobacco by the Arawak Indians in the Caribbean. The tobacco was cut and then smoked in corn leaves. However, tobacco has been grown long before that and most likely smoked in pipes since more than 1000-year-old pipes have been found in the United States.
The plant arrived in Sweden in the 17th century and several tobacco plantations were established for the country to become self-sufficient. The plants had a long history in the country, and the tobacco was mainly used to produce snuff. Nowadays, there are no industrial tobacco plantations left in Sweden and the tobacco is instead imported from other countries.
What does tobacco contain?
So, what does tobacco contain? Amongst other things, tobacco contains nicotine, which is the substance that makes cigarettes addictive. How much nicotine the tobacco contains depends on the type of tobacco and how it has been produced.
Different kinds of tobacco:
● Virginia tobacco – The leaves are cured by being suspended in large, closed barns that are heated and ventilated. This is a light tobacco that contains 2,5-3% nicotine. About two fifths of the world’s tobacco is Virginia tobacco.
● Burley tobacco – The tobacco is suspended in an open barn and air-cured. This is a light tobacco that contains 3,5-4% nicotine. About a tenth of the world’s tobacco is of this type.
● Dark, air-cured tobacco – This tobacco is mainly used for snuff, cigars and chewing tobacco and accounts for a fifth of the world’s production.
Philip Morris strives for good working conditions in the production of tobacco
We want to work towards a better world and our aim is to eliminate all child labour in the chain of tobacco production by 2025. We have already set up an ALP-program (Agricultural Labour Practices), which provides a reliable system to identify risks and incidents of child labour at our suppliers and take immediate action. We also strive for sustainability and ensure that all our tobacco suppliers apply good working conditions. Our goal is for all our tobacco suppliers to manage well financially and have safe workplaces with healthy, motivated staff.
Global sustainability work for a better world
With our global sustainability work, we have developed several strategies and efforts to be able to contribute to a better world. We protect the forests and do what we can to shield them during the manufacturing of our products. We strive to use sustainable and traceable raw materials in our entire tobacco chain. In addition, we want to help reduce water consumption, protect watercourses and promote sustainable water management where our tobacco is grown.