While the “Yatrochemists” Paracelsus “religions” promoted the use of opium in Europe, the exotic newcomer slowly made his way onto the European scene. Tobacco was the first and most immediate payment for the discovery of the New World — On November 2, 1492, less than a month after his first arrival in the New World, Columbus landed on the north coast of Cuba. Admiral Okeansky sent two members of his crew loaded with gifts to the interior of the island, where, he believed, was supposed to be the head of many coastal villages that he had seen. The admiral, no doubt, still had some hope that his people would return with the news of gold, precious stones, precious woods and spices — the wealth of India. Instead, the scouts returned with a message about men and women,in which burned rolled leaves were inserted into the nostrils. These lighted convolutions were called“Tobaccos” and they consisted of dried herbs wrapped in a large dry leaf. They were lit from one end, and people were drawing in smoke from the other – they “drank” it, that is, they breathed in something completely unknown in Europe.
De las Casas, Bishop of Chiapsky, who published the report of Columbus in which this description is given, added his comment.
I know the Spaniards imitating this custom, and when I reprimanded them for this wild occupation, they replied that they could not give up this habit. Although the mariners were extremely surprised by this strange savage custom, they, having experimented with it themselves, soon got so much pleasure that they began to imitate him.
Four years after the first journey, the recluse Romano Pane, whom Columbus left in Haiti after completing his second trip to the New World, described in his journal a local habit of inhaling tobacco smoke using a bird-bone device inserted into the nose and supported above the tobacco piled on coals. The consequences of this simple ethnographic observation were yet to be taken into account. It introduced into Europe an extremely effective method of introducing drugs into the human body, including many potentially dangerous ones. It made a worldwide tobacco smoking epidemic possible. It was a fast and abusive way to consume both opium and hashish. And it was the distant ancestor of crack cocaine smokers and Pi-Pi-Pi [ PCP, phenylcycledine. – Approx. ed. ]. He, it should be said, allows one to experience the deepest ecstasy caused by indole hallucinogens, a rare but incomparable practice of smoking DMT (dimethyltryptamine).