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Cigarettes are made by enclosing tobacco in a cylinder of chemically impregnated paper that smolders, rather than burns, when ignited. Smokers inhale the fumes and smoke to obtain the desired dose of the highly addictive drug nicotine. By the early 20th century, this had become the main mode of tobacco use. The invention of machines to mass produce cigarettes and heavy promotion by tobacco manufacturers during World War I (1914–1918) made the custom of cigarette smoking ubiquitous among men by the 1920s. Aided by advertising, cigarette smoking spread increasingly among women in Western nations by the 1940s. Evidence of the causal connection of cigarette smoking to lung cancer began to appear in the 1950s, after German precursor studies published in the late 1930s. By the 1990s, resistance to cigarette smoking in public places had begun to transform society in North America, parts of the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand, but it remains popular among youth, especially poorly educated females, and is rapidly spreading in low- and middle-income nations. Strong public health action is needed if nations are to reduce and eventually eliminate cigarette smoking and, preferably, all forms of tobacco use. See also Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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