1492 – Christopher Columbus given dried tobacco leaves in the House of the Arawaks. Rodrigo de Jerez, one of Columbus’s fellow explorers, becomes the first European smoker.
Mid-16th century – Adventurers such as Walter Raleigh, Francisco Fernandes and Jean Nicot, after whom nicotine is named, introduce tobacco to Europe.
1832 – The first paper-rolled cigarette is believed to have been made by Egyptian artillerymen fighting in the Turkish-Egyptian war.
1850s – Development of the first manufactured cigarettes.
1858 – Fears about the effects of smoking on health first raised in The Lancet.
1912 – First suggestion of a link between smoking and lung cancer made. The first lobectomy for lung cancer is accomplished by a London surgeon.
1914 – Outbreak of the First World War sees cigarette rations introduced. Smoking is hugely popular with the soldiers and cigarettes are known as ‘soldier smoke’.
1930 – German researchers in Cologne show a statistical correlation between smoking and lung cancer.
1940/50s – Smoking becomes glamorised by movies and movie stars and widely practised throughout society.
1948 – Lung cancer is established to have grown five times faster than any other cancersince 1938.
1950 – First major study definitively linking smoking and lung cancer is published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). Professor (now Sir) Richard Doll and A Bradford Hill publish further research in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).
1952 – Reader’s Digest publishes the hugely influential Cancer by the Carton story.
1954 – Manufacturers begin to launch ‘light’ and ‘low tar’ products.
1960s – US bans advertising aimed at under 21s. US tobacco manufacturers are required by law to print health warnings on packets.
1980s/90s – Increasing numbers of smoking bans come into place around the world in public facilities and transportation.
2001 – An LA court awards $3bn to a lung-cancer patient who sued tobacco makers.
2003 – On 31 March, New York City bans smoking in public places.
April 2007 – Smoke-free legislation in comes into force in both Wales and Northern Ireland.
July 2007 – The workplace smoking ban comes into effect in England.
2010 – The date by which the Government hopes to have reduced the number of smokers in the UK by 21 per cent.