Tobacco is the name given to a plant containing nicotine, a psychoactive chemical which affects the human brain. There are more than 70 species of tobacco, the most common commercial species ls Nicotiana tabacum, which is is believed to be native to tropical America, but which is no longer known in the wild.
Tobacco is used as a recreational drug and is consumed mainly by smoking in a variety of forms.
Tobacco was cultivated in the 17th century Americas, and was a popular export in the world market. (James I of England detested tobacco and referred to it as "scurvy weed".) It had also been introduced into the Ottoman Empire in the late 16th century, and Turkish tobacco was not unknown in Europe. Also, Portuguese sailors had introduced tobacco into Japan in 1542.
The sorts of tobacco that were available in the 17th century, were rougher and harsher than those that up-time smokers were accustomed to. Up-time tobacco soon became scarce, although a few Grantvillers grew a handful of the plants in greenhouses.
Grantville's libraries and doctors also brought back late 20th century information about the health risks associated with the use of tobacco.