Humans have indulged in tobacco for hundreds if not thousands of years, yet
cigarette smoking is a relatively new preoccupation. Before 1881, the year the
cigarette-rolling machine was invented, most people consumed tobacco by chewing
it, smoking it in a pipe, or snorting it as snuff, though some smokers
hand-rolled their own cigarettes. The rolling machine allowed for the mass
production of cigarettes and helped establish the new, state-of-the-art
cigarette as the most common and popular vehicle for tobacco consumption.
At first glance, this vehicle may look simple—a tube of paper with tobacco
in it. But each of a cigarette's myriad elements has been carefully engineered
for a specific purpose. In this feature, take a closer look at a typical
cigarette and compare its conventional form with two recent attempts to create
a "safer" cigarette. (For more information on these new high-tech designs, see
"Safer" Cigarettes: A History).