Monday, June 24, 2013

Smoking Tobacco consumption in XIXth century France

On April 2, 1810, Napoléon Ist married Marie-Louise, the daughter of the Empress of Austria.

On December 29 of that same year, Napoleon Ist with "finances being foremost on his mind", reestablished the state monopoly over the production, import, sale and distribution of tobacco in France. Thus was born the Régie.

ca. 1815, © Paris, musée national des Arts et Traditions Populaires, Direction des musées de France, 2005   ©Réunion des musées nationaux; © Franck Raux

A close look at the records  of the Régie Française des Tabacs gives us a true insight in the consumption of tobacco in France from 1817 to 1900.

Report of the Jury for the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle

First, and perhaps surprisingly, the consumption of snuff tobacco,

Louis XVI snuff box

 and tobacco sold as "carrots" remained steady during the whole century.

The "carrot", a bunch of dried tobacco leaves tied in a shape that resembles a carrot; the snuffer would grate the carrot on a rasp before inhaling the grated tobacco

Ivory rasp from Dieppe, XVIIth century

Clergyman grinding the tobacco carrot with a wood an metal rasp, XVIIIth century

During the same time, total consumption of tobacco in France grew three-fold from 11.6 million kilograms in 1817 to 38.5 million kilograms in 1900. The population of metropolitan France grew over the century from 30 million to 40 million citizens.

Planche extraite de l'ouvrage Éléments de botanique (Léon Marchand, Hachette 1869)

The smoking or pipe tobacco accounted for most of the increase in consumption, with a seven-fold growth from 4.4 million kilograms to 27.7 million kilograms. 

« Une fois mouillés, les tabacs sont mis en masse jusqu'au moment où ils sont livrés au capsage ; on appelle ainsi l'opération qui, pour le scaferlati ordinaire, a été substituée à l'ancien écotage conservé seulement pour le scaferlati supérieur ; au capsage, les feuilles alignées à la main de façon que toutes les côtes soient bien parallèles, et réunies en ballotins, sont, en cet état, portées au hachage. »
— Journal officiel 29 nov. 1875, p. 9801, 2° col.

A growth which accelerated dramatically between 1848 to 1858, at a time when the demand for pipes, made from the newly discovered miraculous briar wood carved for the most part in Saint-Claude, started its own exponential growth. 

Scaferlati as it was distributed to the French troops in WWI

Production of cigarettes started in the 1840's and while at the turn of the XXth century it remained marginal to smoking tobacco, it was the fastest growing segment of tobacco production in France.

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