Cartoonists Take Up Smoking Logo Square
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  • Tobacco is the leaf of the flowering plant Nicotiana tabacum, which is native to North and South America. Archeological evidence, notably pipes, suggests that tobacco was in use as long as 12,000 years ago. The Mayans in Central America smoked tobacco leaves in religious ceremonies as early as 100 BC.
  • In 1612 English colonist John Rolfe planted tobacco seeds from the Caribbean at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Tobacco became so valuable that it was often used as a currency for payments of certain fines, taxes, and fees, as well as in trade with Native Americans.
  • Because tobacco requires considerable labor for growing, harvesting, and curing (hanging on sticks in barns for four to six weeks), plantation owners imported slaves to plant and pick tobacco beginning in 1619.
  • As the leading cash crop in Virginia and the Carolinas, tobacco was a mainstay of America’s economic growth for three centuries.
  • A federal price support program implemented in the 1930s helped farmers to control supply and maintain stable prices. In the 1960s cigarette manufacturers began undermining the program by using low-cost foreign tobacco. In 1982, tobacco loan program operations were required to function at no net cost to taxpayers.
  • Since 1998, through funds allocated under the Master Settlement Agreement negotiated between the state attorneys-general and the cigarette manufacturers, tobacco farmers have been offered a buy-out option to encourage them to plant alternative crops.
  • The price support program was ended in 2004, dramatically reducing the number of small tobacco farmers (from 80,000 in 2002 to 4200 in 2015).
n.d. National City Bank of NY Ad America the Provider 1

“America the Provider–Tobacco”

Magazine advertisement by The National City Bank of New York

1949 07 The Progressive Farmer Anne Baxter for Chesterfield

“Prominent tobacco farmers smoke Chesterfield”

Advertisement by the Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company
The Progressive Farmer
July 1949

1939 Lucky Strike Ad featuring tobacco auctioneer Have you tried a lucky lately

“With Men Who Know Tobacco Best–It’s Luckies 2 to 1”

Magazine advertisement by the American Tobacco Company

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Crow Cartoon Cash Crop 1
Crow Cartoon Cash Crop II 1


J. D. Crowe

“This pair of cartoons was drawn just for “Cartoonists Take Up Smoking,’ from the perspective of a Kentucky boy who was raised in tobacco country.”

— J. D. Crowe

(The Mobile Press-Register and

n.d. Der Health Care Reform Plan 1

“If you raise tobacco taxes…cough…U.S. tobacco farmers and smokers… cough…will suffer!”

Lambert Der
The Houston Post
Circa 1990

Anderson Cartoon Tobacco Put My Kids Through College 1

“Tobacco put my kids through college.
Tobacco put my kids through college.”

Nick Anderson
The Louisville Courier-Journal
June 12, 1994

“In Kentucky, tobacco farmers and industry flacks have long defended tobacco because of its economic benefits to the state.”

— Nick Anderson

McCoy Cartoon Clinton Examining Tobacco Plant

“Oh, yeah. This tobacco plant looks ready. Hurry up and pull it, cure it, and sell it, so I can tax it, condemn it, and sue it.”

Glenn McCoy, Universal Press Syndicate
The Belleville News-Democrat (Illinois)
Circa 1994

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