has been published in some form since 1886. In the beginning it was simply Tobacco, a daily newspaper, mostly publishing a list of tobacco shipments of from far away ports as well as openings and closings of cigar shops throughout the east coast of the United States. It was complete with beautiful art-neuvo cigar ads that had no thought of warning labels or government-mandated price jumps (see SCHIP story page 36).
As it evolved through the ages, Tobacco became a weekly publication with the subhead “The International Magazine” as the scope of the industry came to encompass the whole world. Also, the emphasis of the magazine went from cigars - which, along with pipes, were the predominant tobacco product of choice - into cigarettes, which became the Western world’s smoke of choice since the 1920s. We still have the archives of every issue of Tobacco and its later glossy color incarnation, Tobacco International. It’s interesting to take a look through the archives and see how much the industry has changed, as well as how much is the same.
While the publication still had a much more US-centric market outlook than the more global view of today, we see that the leaf market was still following the same areas it is today. In the March 6th, 1959 issue of Tobacco, there’s a small piece titled “India Exporting More Tobacco.” Back then, the author of that piece marveled at the 33 mn pounds of flue-cured tobacco. Of course, if you take a look at our current issues’ piece on Indian leaf, that nation long ago had to make the transformation of tobacco exports from pounds to tons (see page 18). On that same page as the 1959 India piece, there was an article titled “BAT to Build Big Plant in West Africa.” I’m sure it would be heartening to the executives of BAT from 50 years ago to see that five decades later there would be a profile of the very same company in a very robust form in the same publication (BAT, page 12).
Many of the same names we know today were making news back then, which apparently was a strong year in the tobacco biz: “General Cigar’s Sales Highest in History,” “New High in Sales Volume Attained by Philip Morris,” “Lorillard Set Earnings, Sales Records in 1958,” “Consolidated Cigar [now Altadis] Begins Buying of Remedios Leaf.”
Unfortunately, we’ll likely never get back to the times of celebrity endorsements of cigarettes like we featured back then, and we won’t get any more headlines in the vein of “Sen. Ellender Defends U.S. Tobacco Program” - just see that SCHIP story.