Tobacco in the United States

Tobacco Products in Kentucky

The culture of tobacco, which is the second most valuable crop in (Kentucky), was begun in the north part about 1780 and in the west and south early in the 19th century, but it was late in that century before it was introduced to any considerable extent in the Blue Grass Region, where it was then in a measure substituted for the culture of hemp. By 1849 Kentucky ranked second only to Virginia in the production of tobacco, and in 1899 it was far ahead of any other state in both acreage and yield, there being in that year 384,805 acres, which was 34.9% of the total acreage in the continental United States, yielding 314,288,050 ?. As compared with the state’s Indian corn crop of that year, the acreage was only a little more than one-ninth, but the value ($18,541,982) was about 63%. In 1909 the tobacco acreage in Kentucky was 420,000, the crop was 350,700,000 ?, valued at $37,174,200; the average price per pound had increased from 5.9 cents in 1899 to 10.6 cents in 1909.

The two most important tobacco-growing districts are: the Black Patch, in the extreme south-west corner of the state, which with the adjacent counties in Tennessee grows a black heavy leaf bought almost entirely by the agents of foreign governments (especially Austria, Spain and Italy) and called “regie” tobacco; and the Blue Grass Region, as far east as Maysville, and the hill country south and east, whose product, the red and white Burley, is a fine-fibred light leaf, peculiarly absorbent of licorice and other adulterants used in the manufacture of sweet chewing tobacco, and hence a peculiarly valuable crop, which formerly averaged 22 cents a pound for all grades.1 The high price received by the hill growers of the Burley induced farmers in the Blue Grass to plant Burley tobacco there, where the crop proved a great success, more than twice as much (sometimes 2000 ?) being grown to the acre in the Blue Grass as in the hills and twice as large patches being easily managed. In the hill country the share tenant could usually plant and cultivate only four acres of tobacco, had to spend 120 days working the crop, and could use the same land for tobacco only once in six years. So, although a price of 6.5 cents a pound covered expenses of the planter of Burley in the Blue Grass, who could use the same land for tobacco once in four years, this price did not repay the hill planter.

The additional production of the Blue Grass Region sent the price of Burley tobacco down to this figure and below it. The planters in the Black Patch had met a combination of the buyers by forming a pool, the Planters’ Protective Association, into which 40,000 growers were forced by “night-riding” and other forms of coercion and persuasion, and had thus secured an advance to 11 cents a pound from the “regie” buyers and had shown the efficacy of pooling methods in securing better prices for the tobacco crop. Following their example, the planters of the Burley formed the Burley Tobacco Society, a Burley pool, with headquarters at Winchester and associated with the American Society of Equity, which promoted in general the pooling of different crops throughout the country. The tobacco planters secured legislation favourable to the formation of crop pools.

The Burley Tobacco Society attempted to pool the entire crop and thus force the buyers of the American Tobacco Company of New Jersey (which usually bought more than three-fourths of the crop of Burley) to pay a much higher price for it. In 1906 and in 1907 the crop was very large; the pool sold its lower grades of the 1906 crop at 16 cents a pound to the American Tobacco Company and forced the independent buyers out of business; and the Burley Society decided in 1907 to grow no more tobacco until the 1906 and 1907 crops were sold, making the price high enough to pay for this period of idleness. Members of the pool had used force to bring planters into the pool; and now some tobacco growers, especially in the hills, planted new crops in the hope of immediate return, and a new “night-riding” war was begun on them.

Bands of masked men rode about the country both in the Black Patch and in the Burley, burning tobacco houses of the independent planters, scraping their newly-planted tobacco patches, demanding that planters join their organization or leave the country, and whipping or shooting the recalcitrants. Governor Willson, immediately after his inauguration, took measures to suppress disorder. In general the Planters’ Protective Association in the Black Patch was more successful in its pool than the Burley Tobacco Society in its, and there was more violence in the “regie” than in the “Burley” district. In November 1908 the lawlessness subsided in the Burley after the agreement of the American Tobacco Company to purchase the remainder of the 1906 crop at a “round” price of 20½ cents and a part of the 1907 crop at an average price of 17 cents, thus making it profitable to raise a full crop in 1909.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

Tobacco Products Taxes and the State Laws

See for state-specific information on Tobacco Products Taxes in this legal Encyclopedia.

Finding the law: Tobacco in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to tobacco, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines tobacco topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


Further Reading