Tobacco begins its lifecycle as a seed sown in a specially constructed seedbed. After two months, the seed has grown into a plant some 15-20 cm high, strong enough to continue its growth in the field for the next two to three months, carefully tended to maximize yield and quality.
Tobacco is harvested either leaf by leaf, in the case of Virginia and oriental tobaccos, or by the whole plant, in the case of burley.
The next stage, curing, plays a major role in defining the leaf's final quality and character. Each tobacco type is cured differently: air-curing for burley, flue-curing for Virginia, and sun-curing for oriental.
Leaves are next sorted by stalk position and quality, then packed in bales, which are evaluated by leaf buyers.
Tobacco leaf completes its journey through final processing which, for burley and Virginia tobaccos, includes separation of leaf from stem and removal of sand and nontobacco materials. The tobacco is dried, packed in cases, and shipped to our manufacturing centers around the world where it is blended and made into cigarettes.
The growing process for tobacco has not changed much in the last 200 years. Technology has been added, of course, to make production more efficient, but the different stages of the process remain more or less the same.
We source high-quality tobacco from leaf suppliers and farmers in over 30 countries. We require that our suppliers follow our Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program, which cover the entire tobacco growing process: planning the crops, selecting the right site with appropriate soil type and fertility, and preparing the land to ensure the tobacco we buy has the very best foundations on which to grow.