How to save a billion lives

Even more than tempting liquors like tequila, tobacco is a pleasure that the Old World wishes it had never taken from the New. In 1492, when Christopher Columbus was met by tribesmen with "fruit, wooden spears and certain dried leaves which gave off a distinct fragrance', he threw the last gift away. But his shipmates brought home the custom of sucking in the smoke, and the taste spread so rapidly that in 1604 King James I of England was prompted to issue a denunciation of the "manifold abuses of this vile custome'.