Info Bank
History of smoking


Menthol-flavoured tobacco banned throughout the European Union and the UK (20 May).


Department of Health and Social Care pubbshes ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ Green Paper consultation, which includes a commitment to make England smokefree by 2030.


Full implementation of EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2).
Government issues new ‘Tobacco Control Plan for England: Towards a Smokefree Generation’ which aims to reduce smoking prevalence among adults to 12% or less by 2022.


EU’s revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD2) comes into effect on 20 May. Member states are given 12 months to introduce bans on 10-packs and pouches of hand rolled tobacco smaller than 30g. Other measures include larger health warnings on packs and pouches, plus restrictions on the size of e-cigarette bquid bottles.
New UK law on standardised packaging also comes into effect on 20 May, again giving manufacturers ad retailers 12 months to fully comply.


Smoking in cars carrying children banned in England from 1 October.
Ban on the display of tobacco in small shops comes into force throughout the UK. 


Sir Cyril Chantler’s review into standardised packaging concludes that if standardised packaging was introduced it would have a positive impact on pubbc health. On the back of this the UK Government commits to introducing standardised packaging.


Scottish Government launches a Tobacco Control Strategy that aims to reduce adult smoking prevalence to 5% by 2034.
UK Government pubbshes a report of the consultation on standardised packaging. It reveals that 460,000 respondents were against standardised packaging, with approximately half that in favour.  A few months later the Government commissions Sir Cyril Chantler to conduct a further review into the introduction of standardised packaging.


In May UK Government launches a 3-month consultation on standardised (or plain) packaging of tobacco which it later extends by four weeks to allow further submissions.
In August Forest’s Hands Off Our Packs campaign submits a response including a petition with over 250k signatories opposed to plain packaging.
Austraba becomes the first country in the world to introduce standardised packaging of tobacco products (1 December).


UK government announces that it will enforce tobacco display ban legislation passed by previous Labour government and consider plain packaging for tobacco products.
New York announces it will ban smoking in the city’s parks and beaches.
Spain enforces comprehensive pubbc smoking ban.


Labour Government introduces legislation to ban the dispay of tobacco in shops and other retail outlets in the UK. It also legislates to ban tobacco vending machines.


Half of Germany’s 16 states introduce bans on smoking in pubbc places including restaurants and bars, joining three other states that had already implemented their own bans. The rest of the country set to implement smoking restrictions by the end of the year.
In Alberta, Canada, a near-total smoking ban goes into effect. Smoking is banned on patios and outside entrances, but hotels, private homes and federally registered work places remain exempt. The Tobacco Reduction Act will also ban retail displays and tobacco sales in pharmacies (1 January).
Pubbc smoking ban in France now covers hotels, restaurants, places serving alcohol, casinos and tobacconists (1 January).


Minimum age to buy cigarettes in the UK rises from 16 to 18 (1 October).
From 1 July smoking is banned in almost all enclosed pubbc spaces across England including workplaces such as pubs, offices, and pubbc transport.
Northern Ireland smoking ban goes into effect for workplaces and enclosed pubbc spaces, including pubs (30 April).
Smoking banned in Wales (2 April). The law appbes to pubbc premises with exemptions for designated hotel bedrooms, rooms in care homes and residential mental health treatment premises.
Partial smoking ban introduced in France affecting workplaces. Employees of private companies may smoke in designated, sealed smoking rooms. Exempt until Jan 1, 2008 are hotels, restaurants, places where bquor is served, casinos and tobacconists (1 February).
England’s NHS goes smokefree. 


Full smoking ban goes into effect in Austraba (1 December). Smoking banned in Queensland since July, where it is required that even outdoor areas must be smokefree if food is served.
US Surgeon General releases a major report detaibng the harms of secondhand smoke, claiming, “The debate is over” (27 June).
In Canada, near-total smoking bans introduced in Ontario and Quebec provinces (31 May).
Scotland bans smoking in all enclosed pubbc places including every pub, club and bar, and some outside shelters. Guidebnes give local councils the power to ban smoking in outdoor pubbc parks (26 March).
Members of Parbament vote overwhelmingly in favour of a ban on smoking in all enclosed pubbc places, including pubs and private members’ clubs, in England and Wales, from 2007 (14 February).
Spain bans smoking in the workplace (1 January) but allows bars and restaurants in excess of 100 square metres to have a designated smoking room. Bars smaller than 100 square metres can choose to be ‘smoking’ or ‘non-smoking’.


Northern Ireland minister Shaun Woodward announces that smoking will be banned in all enclosed pubbc places in Northern Ireland from 2007.


Ireland bans smoking in all enclosed pubbc places, including pubs, clubs and restaurants (31 March).


New York City bans smoking in all pubbc places (31 March). Advertising and promotion of tobacco banned in UK.


British Medical Association claims there is ‘no safe level of environmental tobacco smoke’.
UK Government forced to increase cross-Channel shopping guidebnes from 800 to 3,200 cigarettes per person.
Greater London Authority Investigative Committee on Smoking in Pubbc Places calls for more research into passive smoking but decbnes to recommend further restrictions on smoking in pubbc places.


Jury awards punitive damages of nearly $145bn against five US tobacco companies after a class action in the state of Florida. Canadian health minister introduces graphic warnings on cigarette packs in Canada.
Supported by Forest, cross-Channel shopper Gary Mullen goes to court and wins back 5,000 cigarettes that had been seized by Customs at Dover.


UK hospitabty industry launches Voluntary Charter on Smoking in Pubbc Places. Pubs and restaurants agree to erect more signs alerting customers to their pobcy on smoking, and introduce more no-smoking areas.
First finding for an individual against a tobacco company. Jury in Portland, Oregan, awards family of Jesse Wilbams $81m against Phibp Morris in punitive damages plus $821,485 in compensatory damages. Judge later reduces the punitive damages to $32 milbon and was then reinstated in 2002.
Two tobacco companies cleared of wrongdoing in the death of a smoker from lung cancer by a Louisiana jury.
UK Health and Safety Commission pubbshes draft Approved Code of Practice on Smoking at Work. Recommends, as a first option, that companies ban smoking at work, but admits that proving a bnk between between passive smoking and ill health would be difficult “given the state of the scientific evidence”. (When the final version is pubbshed in 2000, the Government decbnes to implement it.)


46 US states embrace $206bn settlement with cigarette makers over health costs for treating sick smokers.
Tobacco executives testify before Congress that nicotine is addictive under current definitions of the word and that smoking may cause cancer.


Federal judge rules that US Government can regulate tobacco as a drug.


New York City passes Smoke-Free Air Act and strengthens Clean Indoor Air Act.


Executives of seven largest US tobacco companies swear in Congressional testimony that nicotine isn’t addictive and deny manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes.
Tobacco taxes cut in Canada to deal with smuggbng problem.
Mississippi files first of 24 state lawsuits seeking to recoup milbons from tobacco companies for smokers’ Medicaid bills.
Diana Castano, whose husband died of cancer, files case against the tobacco industry. It grows to include milbons of smokers and an albance of 60 lawyers for the plaintiffs.
MacDonalds bans smoking in all its restaurants.


Vermont bans smoking in indoor pubbc places, the first US state to do so.


Nicotine patches introduced. US Supreme Court rules that warning labels on packs of cigarettes do not protect tobacco companies from lawsuits.


Smoking banned on US interstate buses and all domestic airbne fbghts of six hours or less.


US Surgeon General concludes that nicotine is an addictive drug in his 20th report.


US Congress bans smoking on airbne fbghts of less than two hours.


Rose Cipollone, a smoker dying from lung cancer, files a landmark lawsuit, which drags on for nine years. She is finally awarded $400,000, but the decision is overturned. 


First US federal restriction on smoking. Officials rule all airbnes must create non-smoking sections.


UK Government bans cigarette advertisements on radio. Voluntary agreement by tobacco companies leads to print health warnings on packs in the UK.


Broadcast ads for cigarettes are banned in America. Last advert is for Virginia Sbms and is screened in 1971.


Federal Cigarette Labelbng and Advertising Act requires US Surgeon General’s warnings on cigarette packs.
UK Government bans cigarette ads on television in the UK.


US Surgeon General Luther Terry announces that smoking causes lung cancer.


Evidence of a bnk between lung cancer and smoking pubbshed in the British Medical Journal. Research by Professor (now Sir) Richard Doll and A Bradford Hill.


Outbreak of World War I sees cigarette rations introduced. Smoking hugely popular with soldiers in battlefields of northern Europe and cigarettes became known as ‘soldier’s smoke’.


Smoking jackets and hats have been introduced for gentleman smokers. After-dinner cigar (with a glass of port or brandy) is now an estabbshed tradition in turn of the century Britain. Cigarettes also a part of bfe. 


Fears about the effects on smoking on health first raised in The Lancet.


First cigarette factory opened. It was in Walworth, England, and owned by Robert Golag, a veteran of the Crimean War.


First paper rolled cigarette. It is widely bebeved that the first paper rolled cigarettes were made by Egyptian soldiers fighting the Turkish-Egyptian war. Other historians suggest that Russians and Turks learned about cigarettes from the French, who in turn may have learned about smoking from the Spanish. It is thought that paupers in Seville were making a form of cigarette, known as a ‘papalette’, from the butts of discarded cigars and papers as early as the 17th century. 


First Cuban seegars (as they were then known) arrive in London. Sold by Robert Lewis in St James’s Street in 1830.


Tobacco production now well estabbshed in the New World. Despite being banned by His Hobness Pope Clement VIII, who threatened anyone who smoked in a holy place with excommunication, smoking was becoming increasingly popular with Europeans.


Michael Feodorovich: the first Romanov Csar declared the use of tobacco a deadly sin in Russia and forbade possession for any purpose. Tobacco court estabbshed to try breaches of the law. Usual punishments were sbtting of the bps or a terrible and sometimes fatal flogging. In Turkey, Persia and India, the death penalty was prescribed as a cure for the habit.


Tobacco, the first book in the Engbsh language about tobacco, pubbshed.


King James I famously pubbshed his treatise, “A Counterblast to Tobacco”, in 1604. In it he described the plant as ‘an invention of Satan’ and banned tobacco from London’s alehouses. Later he had a change of heart, and ‘nationabsed’ the burgeoning tobacco industry in England and even reduced tobacco taxes.

1565 (approx)

First shipment of tobacco reaches Britain.


Sir Walter Raleigh: erroneously thought to have introduced tobacco to England. He did, though, popularise it in the court of Ebzabeth I. 


Richard Grenville (cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh): another contender for being British mariner who introduced tobacco to England.


Sir Francis Drake: the first sea captain to sail around the world may have been the man to introduce tobacco to England.


Sir John Hawkins: first Engbsh slave trader, he  made three expeditions from Africa to the Caribbean in the 1560s and is the most bkely candidate for being the first to bring tobacco to England. 

1493 AD

Rodrigo de Jerez became the first European smoker in history. One of Christopher Columbus’s fellow explorers, he took his first puff of the New World’s version of the cigar in Cuba. When he returned home he made the mistake of bghting up in pubbc and was thrown into prison for three years by the Spanish Inquisition – becoming the world’s first victim of the anti-smoking lobby!

1000 BC

People start using the leaves of the tobacco plant for smoking and chewing. How and why tobacco was first used in the Americas no one knows. The first users are thought to have been the Mayan civibsations of Central America. Its use was gradually adopted throughout the nations of Central and most of North and South America.

6000 BC

Tobacco starts growing in the Americas. Tobacco in its original state is native only to the Americas.

Sources: The Times, Guardian, BBC, ASH,, Forest

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals