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The first successful commercial crop was cultivated in Virginia in 1612 by Englishman John Rolfe.
Within seven years, it was the colony's largest export.
(CNN) -- Tobacco was first used by the peoples of the pre-Columbian Americas.
Native Americans apparently cultivated the plant and smoked it in pipes for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.
Cigarette sales surged again with the introduction of the "White Burley" tobacco leaf and the invention of the first practical cigarette-making machine, sponsored by tobacco baron James Buchanan "Buck" Duke, in the late 1880s.
The negative health effects of tobacco were not initially known; in fact, most early European physicians subscribed to the Native American belief that tobacco can be an effective medicine.
Discovery: Transplant patients who are given smokers' lungs (right) are just as likely to survive as those who receive organs from non-smokers (left), a study has revealed.
Some patients even had higher survival rates In total, 53 per cent were given lungs from non-smokers, while 29 per cent got lungs from donors who smoked for less than 20 years and 18 per cent were given the lungs of people who smoked 20 or more a day for at least 20 years.
Instead, a defendant can be held partially liable and forced to pay a corresponding percentage of damages.
The effect of the article was enormous: Similar reports began appearing in other periodicals, and the smoking public began to take notice. With counsel from TIRC, tobacco companies began mass-marketing filtered cigarettes and low-tar formulations that promised a "healthier" smoke.
The following year, cigarette sales declined for the first time in over two decades. The public responded, and soon sales were booming again.
In 1994, Mississippi filed the first of 22 state lawsuits seeking to recoup millions of dollars from tobacco companies for smokers' Medicaid bills.
And in 1995, President Clinton announced FDA plans to regulate tobacco, especially sales and advertising aimed at minors. So why has it taken so long for the tobacco industry to be forced to settle lawsuits over the dangers of cigarettes? Tobacco companies, with deep pockets for legal maneuvering, easily beat back early suits, including the first one, filed in 1954.