Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The spread of tobacco across the Middle East

The "New World" - a world that had existed for centuries of course, with indigenous inhabitants, before it was "discovered" by Spanish and English explorers during the 1500s - gave the "Old World" and "the East" many products.... not the least of which was tobacco.

In the "New World" tobacco was smoked in a variety of small pipes, or in cigars or cigarettes. The indigenous peoples used these for their religious ceremonies.

When the British brought tobacco to the lands of the Middle East such as Persia (now known as Iran) the tobacco was too harsh to be inhaled frequently, so an inventor somewhere in that region invented the water pipe, in which the smoke from burning tobacco was filtered, making it more palatable.

Modern day Iran - notice it is located to the north east of Africa.  Can you identify the countries surrounding it?

Smoking from a water pipe, or hookah, became popular in the 1500s and continues to do so today.

When people from the Middle East began emigrating to England and the United States in the 1800s, they brought the water pipe with then, although it never achieved the popularity that cigarettes and cigars did.

Today, however, the use of electronic, portable hookahs - hookah sticks or hookah pens as they are called is increasing. Instead of using tobacco, people use fruit flavored liquids which are vaporized and then inhaled.

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