Regency tobacco and How to Puff It

Francis welshFrom the first importation of tobacco into Europe, to Spain, round about 1528, folks tried various ways to get into the nicotine habit. By the Regency, folks had their choice of snuff, cigars, or pipes. 

Now, snuff is a whole extensive subject I am not going to go into Snuff box circa 1775except to say that it leads to a snuff boxes, like those on the right, which are the delightful byproduct of a nasty habit. If I’d been living in the Georgian era I would have collected snuff boxes and carried them about full of little fruit pastilles. 220px-Rowntrees-Fruit-Pastilles

Were there cigarettes?

Well, no. Not really. Technically there was something fairly similar to cigarettes in  Spain well before the Regency. They were called papelate and based on the Snuff box 1750South American custom of wrapping cut tobacco in rolled corn husks or bark or something other than a tobacco leaf. We have paintings of Spanish folks smoking this way, but no way to tell if papelate were routinely wrapped in paper.

The French, in the 1830s, saw the papelate, renamed it ‘cigarette’, and wrapped the tobacco in fine, thin paper. Voila. The rest is history.

Most significantly, the word cigarette is not used in English till 1842, so our Regency hero cannot step out onto the terrace to meditatively smoke a cigarette, overhear the heroine being reluctant with some man, and toss his cigarette down before he stomps off to be heroic.

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