The leaves of the tobacco-plant are dried and variously prepared, forming a narcotic and sedative substance widely used for smoking, also for chewing, or in the form of snuff, and to a slight extent in medicine. Imported to Europe from the tropical regions of the Americas around the same time as the tomato and the potato, tobacco has had a checkered history. Detested by James I of England, it was banned from the court. The addictive properties of nicotine, whilst denied by many of the tobacco companies, are well documented as are the links between the smoking of tobacco and lung cancer. When Cambridge University was offered funding by British American Tobacco for a Chair, many letters were written stating the facts of these links and expressing dismay that the University would accept such money. However, historically, many individuals and companies with dubious associations have become famous for donations to high quality research. Nobel is an example. However, the best letter to the University was written by John Powells, in which he stated that the raison d'ĂȘtre of a University was to work to reveal the truth whilst the behaviour of the tobacco companies had shown a desire to suppress it. The late 20th and early 21st Century have brought the enactment of laws suppressing the smoking of tobacco in public places in the United States and parts of Europe.

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