History of nicotine begins from time when French ambassador in Portugal sent tobacco and seeds from Brazil to Paris in 1560 and promoted their medicinal use. Nicotine is named after the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum.
American Heritage Science Dictionary describes nicotine as colourless, poisonous compound occurring naturally in the tobacco plant. Nicotine is used in medicine and as an insecticide, and it is the substance in tobacco products to which smokers can become addicted.
Tobacco was described as a holy, healing herb, a remedy sent by God to man. It was also described as an evil plant an invention of the devil. Portuguese sailors were avid smokers a where responsible for setting up tobacco trade with India, Brazil, Japan, China and Africa. It was chewed, snuffed and even administered rectally in religious ceremonies. The most important chapter in the history of tobacco took place in the early 1960’s. The U.S Surgeon General reported in 1964 that cigarette smoking is causally related to lung cancer in men. The smoker who inhales the smoke gets about 90% of the nicotine in the bloodstream compared to 20% to 50% from smoke taken only into the mouth than exhaled. Nicotine from inhaled tobacco reaches the brain in only seven seconds.
Nicotine is the main psychoactive compound in tobacco.
French scientist Vauquelin observed nicotine in 1809. He noticed a volatile and alkali active product in the tobacco juice.
Nicotine was first isolated from the tobacco plant in 1828 by German chemists Posselt and Reiman. Its chemical empirical formula was described by Melsens in 1843. First nicotine was synthesized in 1904.
In 50's there were first studies of the metabolism of nicotine.
In 1965 Federal Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act requires health warning to be printed on all cigarette packs.
In 1967 Surgeon General concludes that smoking is the main cause of lung cancer.
In 1988 congressionally mandated smoking ban takes effect on domestic airline flights less than 2 hours in long.
In 2002 levels of smoking dropped to roughly 2000 cigarettes per person over 18 per year, less than half the level 40 years earlier.
Despite decreases in levels of tobacco use, it remains the leading preventable cause of death in the world.