Introductionsmoking, inhalation and exhalation of the fumes of burning tobacco in cigars and cigarettes and pipes. Some persons draw the smoke into their lungs; others do not. Smoking was probably first practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. Originally used in religious rituals, and in some instances for medicinal purposes, smoking and the use of tobacco became a widespread practice by the late 1500s. Tobacco was introduced into Europe by the explorers of the New World; however, many rulers prohibited its use and penalized offenders. By the end of the 19th cent. mass production of cigarettes had begun, and the smoking of cigarettes became prevalent as the use of cigars and pipes declined. Despite controversy as to the effects of smoking and bans on smoking by certain religious groups, the use of tobacco continued to increase.
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