Tobacco industry

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The tobacco industry comprises those persons and companies engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment, advertisement, and distribution of tobacco and tobacco-related products. It is a global industry; tobacco can grow in any warm, moist environment, which means it can be farmed on all continents except Antarctica. The tobacco industry is particularly significant for those seeking to understand modern public relations techniques and the operations of specific companies for two reasons. Firstly, as a global industry that came under sustained criticism from the mid-twentieth century onwards, it pioneered many big-budget campaigns that fueled the growth and evolution of the public relations industry. Secondly, as a result of legal actions against the major tobacco companies, there are now over 40 million pages of internal company documents publicly available on searchable websites that provide a fascinating insight into the inner workings of past and still running campaigns.

Tobacco, one of the most widely used addictive substances in the world, is a plant native to the Americas and historically one of the half-dozen most important crops grown by American farmers. More specifically, tobacco refers to any of various plants of the genus Nicotiana, (especially N. tabacum) native to tropical America and widely cultivated for their leaves, which are used primarily for smoking; and to the leaves of the plants, dried and processed chiefly for use in cigarettes, cigars, or snuff; or for smoking in pipes. From 1617 to 1793 tobacco was the most valuable staple export from the English American mainland colonies and the United States. Until the 1960s, the United States not only grew but also manufactured and exported more tobacco than any other country.

Since 1964 conclusive epidemiological evidence of the deadly effects of tobacco consumption has led to a sharp decline in official support for producers and manufacturers of tobacco, in spite of its indisputably large contribution to the agricultural, fiscal, manufacturing, and exporting sectors of the economy. Tobacco is an agricultural commodity product, similar in economic terms to agricultural foodstuffs: the price is in part determined by crop yields, which vary depending on local weather conditions. The price also varies by specific species grown, the total quantity on the market ready for sale, the area where it was grown, the health of the plants, and other characteristics individual to product quality. Laws around the world now often have some restrictions on smoking, but 5.5 trillion cigarettes are still smoked each year. Tobacco is often heavily taxed.

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