Evolution of Tobacco

A brief history of tobacco

Tobacco has been smoked, sniffed and chewed throughout history for a variety of reasons: cultural and ritual, medicinal and for pleasure. The first cigarette was smoked in Brazil in around 1000BC when indigenous people rolled tobacco leaves in paper. Tobacco was also popular with the Mayans, who chewed as well as smoked it sparking what was to become phenomenon that soon spread into North America.It’s little wonder then that by the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas in 1492, one of the first things he was gifted by locals was dried tobacco leaves, which he took back with him from the New World. The rest is, as they say, history.

  • In the 1500s Europeans began cultivating tobacco in Central America and shipping it back to Europe where doctors proclaimed its medicinal properties saying the crop could cure a myriad of ailments. We now, however, know this not to be true.
  • In the 1600s tobacco shops started appearing in Europe, and in Africa as European settlers began growing the crop and using it as currency.
  • By 1700 African slaves were working tobacco plantations and in the mid-1700s Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, named the tobacco genus: nicotiana rustica and nicotiana tabacum.
  • In the 1800s nicotine, a component of tobacco was isolated and the first cigarette rolling machine was invented.
  • After World War 2 many of the soldiers who returned were addicted to tobacco and the spread of cigarette smoking intensified across the world.
  • By the 1960s the dangers of cigarette smoking were well documented and between 1990 and 2000 bans on smoking in public places were implemented in many countries.

Back to the future – Philip Morris International’s mission

In light of the smoking pandemic and the by now widely known dangers of smoking, Philip Morris International (PMI) made it their mission to create what they termed a smoke-free future for both the company and adult smokers looking for a better alternative to smoking than smoking traditional cigaretters.
This mission has taken more than a decade of research and development by a group of carefully selected scientists and a $6-billion investment before PMI was ready to launch its revolutionary new heat-not-burn technology which launched in South Africa in 2017.

What is IQOS?

A heat-not-burn solution for adult smokers looking for an alternative to ordinary cigarettes, IQOS is a range of sophisticated electronic devices that heat specially designed tobacco sticks called HEETS without combustion, ash or smoke.

This careful crafting of parts and means IQOS when used with HEETS emits 95% less harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes.*

Find out more and book a demo by visiting one of the IQOS kiosks or stores around the country or book a demo online.

Important information: It does not necessarily equal a 95% reduction in risk.
IQOS is not risk-free.

*Average reduction in levels of a broad range of harmful chemicals (excluding nicotine) compared to the smoke of a reference cigarette (3R4F).


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We Care

This website contains information about our smoke-free products and we need your age to make sure that you are an adult in South Africa who would otherwise continue to smoke or use nicotine products. Our nicotine and tobacco products are not an alternative to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids. They are not risk free. They contain nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults. Please visit the Important Information page of this website for further risk information