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Tobacco Snuff was in use by the European nobility from the 16th Century onwards, becoming both medicine and status symbol, even with the health hazards associated. At some point it fell out of favor, whether for smoking or something else, but was this just a fad that had seen it's time or was there something else associated with it's loss of status among the nobility? If there is a good source on this let me know, I'd be curious in reading something substantive on the subject, or on the changing social customs.

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I don't have any sources, but typically things fall out of favor by high society when it becomes common place. IE, if the middle to lower class start doing it high society will usually drop it like a red-headed step child. –  DForck42 Oct 28 '11 at 14:29
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you're interested enough to read a whole book, this looks like the one (the new price is ridiculous but there seem to be several used editions for a reasonable amount).

Alternatively, here's an online article that describes the development of cigarettes in America, which I think sheds a fair amount of light on your question.

Essentially, tobacco suitable for smoking used to be produced in the Middle East, but was too expensive to become a common habit in Europe or America. But in 1839 an American slave discovered a new curing process, which made it easy to grow cheap, smokable tobacco on previously marginal land. It became popular with soldiers during the American civil war. A machine for rolling cigarettes was invented in 1884, and cigarettes became very affordable and convenient.

That's all from the article; the rest is personal speculation:

I know in America chewing tobacco had always been more popular than snuff, and it was falling out of favour in late 19th century because people started to notice that the constant spitting was, well, gross. Cigarettes were a neater alternative, once people could afford them.

Snuff isn't so messy, but I think it's noisy and can make you sneeze, so maybe Europeans switched to cigarettes for much the same reasons as Americans.

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Wow...that's some good information. The book looks like a nice summary that touches on this, but I agree the price is sort of ridiculous for what it is. –  MichaelF Feb 1 '12 at 9:13
    
it's probably out of print. Keep an eye out for the ebook ;). –  Rose Ames Feb 1 '12 at 15:14
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