Tobacco (tamak) a solanaceous plant, Nicotiana tabacum, whose dry leaves are prepared for smoking or chewing or as snuff. Although the home of this plant is tropical America, Indians long before the discovery of Columbus used it. The Spaniards carried tobacco from Mexico to Spain in 1558. Therefrom, it was spread to East and Far East, and Africa by the hand of Spaniards and Portuguese. Jean Nicot who was responsible for its exploitation in France and after whom the plant is named, Nicotiana.
Portuguese introduced tobacco in India around 1508, but it was another plant known as Nicotine tobacco, Nicotiana rustica, a related species of common tobacco. Probably it was the first cultivated tobacco in Mexico during pre-Columbine times. This was then extensively cultivated in different countries before introduction of common tobacco (Virginia variety). This Virginia variety from USA was then introduced in India in 1920. The cultivation of N. rustica is now confined to northern India, Russia and Eastern Europe. Nicotine tobacco contains high amount of nicotine (4-10%) than common tobacco.
The common uses of tobacco in Bangladesh are in making cigarettes, bidi, hooka and, chewing with betel leaves and nuts as jarda. The plant is cultivated as rabi winter crop. The average annual production is about 38,000 m tons from about 73,535 acres of land. The best producing districts are Rangpur, Kushtia, Jessore, Dhaka, Faridpur, Patuakhali, and Chittagong. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]