THE GOLDEN LEAVES
In 1492 Columbus discovers the tobacco.
100 years later everybody smokes. Starting
with wrapped leaves, pleasure is enhanced
with pipes, water pipes, snuff, tobacco
pinches. The Ottoman Empire consumes a
variety with a strong natural aroma and fine
leaves. Skilled producers, climate and soil in
the area we know as Eastern Macedonia and
Thrace, in Greece, give birth to the oriental
tobacco. The American Civil War
(1861-1865) causes a sharp rise in demand.
Greek and Jewish merchants settle in Drama,
then an Ottoman dominion The finest
varieties are loaded at the port of Kavala.
15,000 tobacco workers are employed 6-8
months a year with wages between 5 and 25
piasters*. Female workers are paid less than
men, and child labor is a normal practice. In
1873 Drama exports two tons of oriental
tobacco to Europe and America bringing
considerable taxes to the Sultan's treasury.
*With 5 piasters tobacco workers buy 1.2 kg of bread.