Rodrigo de Jerez
was one of the Spanish
crewmen who sailed to the Americas
on the Santa Maria
as part of Christopher Columbus
's first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean
in 1492. He is credited with being the first European smoker
In September 1492 the crew first encountered tobacco, at San Salvador
island in the Bahamas
, known to the natives as Guanahani
. The natives presented them with apparently valuable dry leaves that spread a peculiar fragrance
. The leaves were discarded.
In November 1492 Jerez and Luis de Torres
first observed natives smoking. They were searching for the Emperor of China
. Apparently the natives made rolls of palm and mais leaves in the manner of a musket formed of paper
, with tobacco on the inside. One would light one side and drink
the smoke out of the other.
Jerez picked up this habit, and when he returned to Europe in the Niña
, he introduced the habit to his home town, Ayamonte
. The smoke surrounding him frightened his neighbours: the Spanish Inquisition
imprisoned him for his sinful and infernal
habits. When he was released seven years later, smoking had caught on.