The tobacco plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, which also includes the potato, the aubergine, the tomato and the pepper. This annual - or sometimes pluriannual - crop has a straight stem 1-3 metres high, and elliptical or lanceolateleaves that contain mineral salts, sugars, proteins, resins, aromatic essences, volatile compounds and nicotine. The plant produces attractive cob-shaped blossoms, while the fruit is a capsule containing tiny brown seeds, round or elliptical in shape, which remain vital for 4-5 years in ordinary environmental conditions. Starting from the 16th century, the tobacco plant spread rapidly from America throughout the world, separating out into a host of different varieties, thanks to its excellent ability to adapt to different environments. Today tobacco is grown in a hundred or so countries, most of them in the developing world. The continents where tobacco farming is most widespread are Asia (especially China, India and Turkey) and America (the USA and Brazil), but the plant is also grown in Europe (in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia), Africa (Zimbabwe and Malawi) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
Different results are obtained in each area, because the climate and the earth have a decisive role to play.
There are several varieties of tobacco, which differ in terms of characteristics, the weather required to grow them and how the leaves are treated after harvesting.
We believe that the tobacco sector should be subjected to a set of regulations and standards able both to protect consumers and reconcile the various interests involved.
Tobacco did not arrive in Europe until America was discovered, but the native peoples of the American continent had already been smoking it for ritual purposes for a very long time.
International Tobacco PLC - London