While the world generally gets up in arms about tobacco products, there are millions of people still chewing, smoking, and producing tobacco around the world.

The complex flavors of different leaves are best appreciated by individuals akin to wine sommeliers; people with discerning noses and palates. Here are just some facts about tobacco you might not have been aware of.

ITGAInternational Tobacco Grower’s Association

Known as theĀ ITGA, for short, this non-profit organization came into being 30 years ago to help tobacco farmers the world over.

They fight for tobacco’s commercial security at a time when people are turning away from this plant, especially as the basis for smoking products.

ITGA members aim to connect members to each other no matter how far apart they are globally. They look to help one another in various ways and fight against anti-tobacco movements. Another role of the ITGA is to let the world know there are people behind these plants whose whole lives would be affected by the loss of their industry.

According to the ITGA, small farms subsidize less controversial farming by growing small amounts of tobacco. Tobacco crops bring in substantial money, making this plant worthwhile to families which might not otherwise make enough growing other plants or raising animals.

Dry Tobacco leavesTypes of Tobacco

Tobacco types are all subtly different from each other. Some have strong flavors; others are subtle. There are sweet, dry, nutty, and bitter styles. Flavors are further affected by the way they are cured: by flue, fire, air, or sun.

Tobacco is generally grown for use in the cigarette industry, for pipes, and for cigars, although it is also used as a source of nicotine for the making of pest-killing agents.

In a regular garden, tobacco plants grown between other plants (known as co-planting) can keep down the number of insects which would otherwise harm flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

Types of tobacco grown for commercial sale include Burley, a Kentucky leaf, Corojo from Cuba (for cigars), Perique from Louisiana, and Virginia.

Concerns about Tobacco and Nicotine

There are several issues revolving around the cultivation and use of tobacco. For the most part, growers are tied to the cigarette industry and no one denies there is a direct association between smoking and cancer. Thus, it is very hard to defend the industry no matter how much good it does for developing countries and individual families.

The tobacco industry has been hit by growth in the e cig market where tobacco is not necessarily used in the making of e liquid, except when vapor juice is made through the process of tobacco extraction. In some cases, this is the way vapor juice companies obtain their nicotine, but many other sources exist including tomatoes and potatoes.

Vaporizers, however, use tobacco leaves. They heat these finely ground leaves rather than burning them, however, so they do not release nearly as many toxins as a cigar or cigarette does. This alternative nicotine delivery system has its detractors but is regarded as much safer than smoking.

Nicotine itself is a potential threat, however, because this is the part of the plant that has addictive properties. Psychologists would argue that the action of smoking (the hand-to-mouth motion and associating smoking with certain activities) is addictive in its own right without the addition of a stimulant.

But the stimulant is what causes highs and lows in the brain, a raised heart rate, and other risky side effects. Just how risky these side effects become depends on the person’s natural tolerance, how much nicotine they consume daily, and how long they have been smoking or chewing tobacco.

The worst thing you can do is ingest nicotine. Parents are strongly advised to keep e liquid with nicotine and cigarettes or loose tobacco well away from curious hands and mouths.

It won’t taste good and kids will most likely spit it out, but not before ingesting enough nicotine to prove fatal or at least warrant a trip to the emergency department. The same goes for pets which could suffer stomach upset or even die if they were to chew on a cigarette butt or accidentally swallow any source of nicotine.