The Royal Navy is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France; the modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century. From the middle decades of the 17th century, through the 18th century, the Royal Navy vied with the Dutch Navy and with the French Navy for maritime supremacy. From the mid 18th century, it was the world's most powerful navy until surpassed by the United States Navy during the Second World War; the Royal Navy played a key part in establishing the British Empire as the unmatched world power during the 19th and first part of the 20th centuries. Due to this historical prominence, it is common among non-Britons, to refer to it as "the Royal Navy" without qualification. Following World War I, the Royal Navy was reduced in size, although at the onset of World War II it was still the world's largest.
By the end of the war, the United States Navy had emerged as the world's largest. During the Cold War, the Royal Navy transformed into a anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines and active in the GIUK gap. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its focus has returned to expeditionary operations around the world and remains one of the world's foremost blue-water navies. However, 21st century reductions in naval spending have led to a personnel shortage and a reduction in the number of warships; the Royal Navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships and submarines including two aircraft carriers, two amphibious transport docks, four ballistic missile submarines, six nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 13 mine-countermeasure vessels and 22 patrol vessels. As of November 2018, there are 74 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, plus 12 ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary; the RFA replenishes Royal Navy warships at sea, augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship vessels.
It works as a force multiplier for the Royal Navy doing patrols that frigates used to do. The total displacement of the Royal Navy is 408,750 tonnes; the Royal Navy is part of Her Majesty's Naval Service, which includes the Royal Marines. The professional head of the Naval Service is the First Sea Lord, an admiral and member of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom; the Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the Admiralty Board, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Royal Navy operates three bases in the United Kingdom; as the seaborne branch of HM Armed Forces, the RN has various roles. As it stands today, the RN has stated its 6 major roles as detailed below in umbrella terms. Preventing Conflict – On a global and regional level Providing Security At Sea – To ensure the stability of international trade at sea International Partnerships – To help cement the relationship with the United Kingdom's allies Maintaining a Readiness To Fight – To protect the United Kingdom's interests across the globe Protecting the Economy – To safe guard vital trade routes to guarantee the United Kingdom's and its allies' economic prosperity at sea Providing Humanitarian Aid – To deliver a fast and effective response to global catastrophes The strength of the fleet of the Kingdom of England was an important element in the kingdom's power in the 10th century.
At one point Aethelred II had an large fleet built by a national levy of one ship for every 310 hides of land, but it is uncertain whether this was a standard or exceptional model for raising fleets. During the period of Danish rule in the 11th century, the authorities maintained a standing fleet by taxation, this continued for a time under the restored English regime of Edward the Confessor, who commanded fleets in person. English naval power declined as a result of the Norman conquest. Following the Battle of Hastings, the Norman navy that brought over William the Conqueror disappeared from records due to William receiving all of those ships from feudal obligations or because of some sort of leasing agreement which lasted only for the duration of the enterprise. More troubling, is the fact that there is no evidence that William adopted or kept the Anglo-Saxon ship mustering system, known as the scipfryd. Hardly noted after 1066, it appears that the Normans let the scipfryd languish so that by 1086, when the Doomsday Book was completed, it had ceased to exist.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, in 1068, Harold Godwinson's sons Godwine and Edmund conducted a ‘raiding-ship army’ which came from Ireland, raiding across the region and to the townships of Bristol and Somerset. In the following year of 1069, they returned with a bigger fleet which they sailed up the River Taw before being beaten back by a local earl near Devon. However, this made explicitly clear that the newly conquered England under Norman rule, in effect, ceded the Irish Sea to the Irish, the Vikings of Dublin, other Norwegians. Besides ceding away the Irish Sea, the Normans ceded the North Sea, a major area where Nordic peoples traveled. In 1069, this lack of naval presence in the North Sea allowed for the invasion an
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 36 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It is a forum of countries describing themselves as committed to democracy and the market economy, providing a platform to compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practices and coordinate domestic and international policies of its members. Most OECD members are high-income economies with a high Human Development Index and are regarded as developed countries; as of 2017, the OECD member states collectively comprised 62.2% of global nominal GDP and 42.8% of global GDP at purchasing power parity. OECD is an official United Nations observer. In 1948, the OECD originated as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, led by Robert Marjolin of France, to help administer the Marshall Plan; this would be achieved by allocating United States financial aid and implementing economic programs for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II.
In 1961, the OEEC was reformed into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development by the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and membership was extended to non-European states. The OECD's headquarters are at the Château de la Muette in France; the OECD is funded by contributions from member states at varying rates and had a total budget of €374 million in 2017. The Organisation for European Economic Co-operation was formed in 1948 to administer American and Canadian aid in the framework of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, it started its operations on 16 April 1948, originated from the work done by the Committee of European Economic Co-operation in 1947 in preparation for the Marshall Plan. Since 1949, it was headquartered in the Château de la Muette in France. After the Marshall Plan ended, the OEEC focused on economic issues. According to Yanis Varoufakis, the OEEC can be seen as a continental planning commission established by the victorious United States following the successful model of their planning commissions of the New Deal.
The economic philosophy these commission followed can be characterized as Keynesian. The lead in the organisation should be with a strong integration of the Germans. In the 1950s, the OEEC provided the framework for negotiations aimed at determining conditions for setting up a European Free Trade Area, to bring the European Economic Community of the six and the other OEEC members together on a multilateral basis. In 1958, a European Nuclear Energy Agency was set up under the OEEC. By the end of the 1950s, with the job of rebuilding Europe done, some leading countries felt that the OEEC had outlived its purpose, but could be adapted to fulfill a more global mission, it would be a hard-fought task, after several sometimes fractious meetings at the Hotel Majestic in Paris starting in January 1960, a resolution was reached to create a body that would deal not only with European and Atlantic economic issues, but devise policies to assist less developed countries. This reconstituted organisation would bring the US and Canada, who were OEEC observers, on board as full members.
It would set to work straight away on bringing in Japan. Following the 1957 Rome Treaties to launch the European Economic Community, the Convention on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was drawn up to reform the OEEC; the Convention was signed in December 1960 and the OECD superseded the OEEC in September 1961. It consisted of the European founder countries of the OEEC plus the United States and Canada, with Japan joining three years later; the official founding members are: During the next 12 years Japan, Finland and New Zealand joined the organisation. Yugoslavia had observer status in the organisation starting with the establishment of the OECD until its dissolution as a country; the OECD created agencies such as the OECD Development Centre, International Energy Agency, Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering. Unlike the organisations of the United Nations system, OECD uses the spelling "organisation" with an "s" in its name rather than "organization". In 1989, after the Revolutions of 1989, the OECD started to assist countries in Central Europe to prepare market economy reforms.
In 1990, the Centre for Co-operation with European Economies in Transition was established, in 1991, the Programme "Partners in Transition" was launched for the benefit of Czechoslovakia and Poland. This programme included a membership option for these countries; as a result of this, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, as well as Mexico and South Korea became members of the OECD between 1994 and 2000. In the 1990s, a number of European countries, now members of the European Union, expressed their willingness to join the organisation. In 1995, Cyprus applied for membership, according to the Cypriot government, it was vetoed by Turkey. In 1996, Estonia and Lithuania signed a Joint Declaration expressing willingness to become full members of the OECD. Slovenia applied for membership that same year. In 2005, Malta applied to join the organisation; the EU is lobbying for admission of all EU member states. Romania reaffirmed in 2
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
National Insurance is a tax system in the United Kingdom paid by workers and employers for funding state benefits. It was a contributory form of insurance against illness and unemployment, provided retirement pensions and other benefits. Citizens pay National Insurance contributions to become eligible for State Pension and other benefits. Anyone 16 years old and above are mandated to pay National Insurance provided the employee earns more than £162 a week or the individual is self-employed and makes a profit of £6,205 or more annually, it is necessary to obtain a National Insurance number before starting to pay contributions. NI was first introduced by the National Insurance Act 1911 and expanded by the Labour government in 1948; the system was subjected to numerous amendments in succeeding years. Employees and employers pay for National Insurance contributions on certain benefits provided to employees. Self-employed persons contribute through a fixed weekly or monthly payment, on a percentage of net profits above a certain threshold.
Individuals may make voluntary contributions to fill a gap in their contributions record and thus protect their entitlement to benefits. Contributions from employees are collected by HM Revenue and Customs through the PAYE system, along with Income Tax, repayments of Student Loans and any Apprenticeship Levy which the employer is liable to pay. Employers include PAYE in their payroll, it refers to the "HM Revenue and Customs’ system for the collection of Income Tax and National Insurance from employment."The benefit component includes several contributory benefits of availability and amount determined by the claimant's contribution record and circumstances. Weekly income and some lump-sum benefits are provided for participants upon death, unemployment and disability. National Insurance contributes a significant part of the government's revenue; the structure of National Insurance was modified to remove the fixed upper contribution limits, with a much lower rate paid by employees on income above a certain level.
The Government Actuary estimated the 2012-13 results for the National Insurance Fund to be as follows: The current system of National Insurance has its roots in the National Insurance Act 1911, which introduced the concept of benefits based on contributions paid by employed persons and their employer. The chosen means of recording the contributions required the employer to buy special stamps from a Post Office and affix them to contribution cards; the cards formed proof of entitlement to benefits and were given to the employee when the employment ended, leading to the loss of a job being referred to as being given your cards, a phrase which endures to this day although the card itself no longer exists. There were two schemes running alongside each other, one for health and pension insurance benefits and the other for unemployment benefit, administered directly by Government; the Beveridge Report in 1942 proposed expansion and unification of the welfare state under a scheme of what was called social insurance.
In March 1943 Winston Churchill in a broadcast entitled "After the War" committed the government to a system of "national compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle to the grave."After the Second World War, the Attlee government pressed ahead with the introduction of the Welfare State, of which an expanded National Insurance scheme was a major component. As part of this process, responsibility passed in 1948 to the new Ministry of National Insurance. At that point, a single stamp was introduced which covered all the benefits of the new Welfare State. Stamp cards for class 1 contributions persisted until 1975 when these contributions ceased to be flat-rate and became earnings related, collected along with Income Tax under the PAYE procedures. Making NI contributions is described by people as paying their stamp; as the system developed, the link between individual contributions and benefits was weakened. The National Insurance Funds are used to pay for certain types of welfare expenditure and National Insurance payments cannot be used directly to fund general government spending.
However, any surplus in the funds is invested in government securities, so is lent to the government at low rates of interest. National Insurance contributions are paid into the various National Insurance Funds after deduction of monies allocated to the National Health Services; however a small percentage is transferred from the funds to the NHS from certain of the smaller sub-classes. Thus the four NHS organisations are funded from NI contributions but not from the NI Fund. Less than half of benefit expenditure now goes on contributory benefits, compared with over 65% in 1978–79 because of the growth of means-tested benefits since the late 1970s. National insurance contributions fall into a number of classes. Class 1, 2 and 3 NICs paid are credited to an individual's NI account, which determines eligibility for certain benefits - including the state pension. Class 1A, 1B and 4 NIC must still be paid if due. Class 1 contributions are paid by their employees. In law, the employee contribution is referred to as the'primary' contribution and the employer contribution as the'secondary', but they are referred to as employee and employer contributions.
The employee contribution is deducted from gross wages by the employer, with no action required by the employee. The employer adds in their own contribution and remits the total to HMRC along wi
Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves; these representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. "Rule of the majority" is sometimes referred to as democracy. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes; the uncertainty of outcomes is inherent in democracy, which makes all forces struggle for the realization of their interests, being the devolution of power from a group of people to a set of rules.
Western democracy, as distinct from that which existed in pre-modern societies, is considered to have originated in city-states such as Classical Athens and the Roman Republic, where various schemes and degrees of enfranchisement of the free male population were observed before the form disappeared in the West at the beginning of late antiquity. The English word dates back to the 16th century, from the older Middle French and Middle Latin equivalents. According to American political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: a political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections. Todd Landman draws our attention to the fact that democracy and human rights are two different concepts and that "there must be greater specificity in the conceptualisation and operationalization of democracy and human rights"; the term appeared in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens, to mean "rule of the people", in contrast to aristocracy, meaning "rule of an elite".
While theoretically these definitions are in opposition, in practice the distinction has been blurred historically. The political system of Classical Athens, for example, granted democratic citizenship to free men and excluded slaves and women from political participation. In all democratic governments throughout ancient and modern history, democratic citizenship consisted of an elite class, until full enfranchisement was won for all adult citizens in most modern democracies through the suffrage movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Democracy contrasts with forms of government where power is either held by an individual, as in an absolute monarchy, or where power is held by a small number of individuals, as in an oligarchy; these oppositions, inherited from Greek philosophy, are now ambiguous because contemporary governments have mixed democratic and monarchic elements. Karl Popper defined democracy in contrast to dictatorship or tyranny, thus focusing on opportunities for the people to control their leaders and to oust them without the need for a revolution.
No consensus exists on how to define democracy, but legal equality, political freedom and rule of law have been identified as important characteristics. These principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no unreasonable restrictions can apply to anyone seeking to become a representative, the freedom of its eligible citizens is secured by legitimised rights and liberties which are protected by a constitution. Other uses of "democracy" include that of direct democracy. One theory holds that democracy requires three fundamental principles: upward control, political equality, social norms by which individuals and institutions only consider acceptable acts that reflect the first two principles of upward control and political equality; the term "democracy" is sometimes used as shorthand for liberal democracy, a variant of representative democracy that may include elements such as political pluralism.
Roger Scruton argues that democracy alone cannot provide personal and political freedom unless the institutions of civil society are present. In some countries, notably in the United Kingdom which originated the Westminster system, the dominant principle is that of parliamentary sovereignty, while maintaining judicial independence. In the United States, separation of powers is cited as a central attribute. In India, parliamentary sovereignty is subject to the Constitution of India which includes judicial review. Though the term "democracy" is used in the context of a political state, the principles are applicable to private organisations. Majority rule is listed as a characteristic of democracy. Hence, democracy allows for political minorities to be oppressed by the "tyranny of the majority" in the absence of legal protections of individual or group rights. An essential part of an "ideal" representative democracy is competitive elections that are substantively and procedurally "fair," i.e. just and equitable
Vehicle Excise Duty
Vehicle Excise Duty is an annual tax, levied as an excise duty and which must be paid for most types of vehicles which are to be used on public roads in the United Kingdom. Registered vehicles that are not being used or parked on public roads and, taxed since 31 January 1998, must be covered by a Statutory Off Road Notification to avoid VED. In 2016, VED generated £6 billion for the Exchequer. A vehicle tax was first introduced in Britain in 1888. In 1920, an excise duty was introduced, applied to motor vehicles. After 1937, this reservation of vehicle revenue for roads was ended, instead the revenue was paid into the Consolidated Fund – the general pot of money held by government. Since maintenance of the UK road network has been funded out of general taxation, of which VED is a part. VED across the United Kingdom is enforced by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency; until 2014, VED in Northern Ireland was collected by Vehicle Agency there. The licence is issued upon payment of the appropriate VED amount.
Owners of registered vehicles which have been licensed since 31 January 1998 and who do not now wish to use or store a vehicle on the public highway are not required to pay VED, but are required to submit an annual Statutory Off-Road Notification. Failure to submit a SORN is punishable in the same manner as failure to pay duty when using the vehicle on public roads; until 1 October 2014 a vehicle licence had to be displayed on a vehicle as evidence of having paid the duty. Since that date, the circular paper discs have not been issued and there is no longer a requirement to display a disc as the records are now stored in a centralised database and accessible using the vehicle registration plate details. There are two payment schedules in effect, depending whether the car was first registered before or after 1 April 2017. Charges as applicable from 1 April 2013. For cars registered before 1 March 2001 the excise duty is based on engine size. For vehicles registered on or after 1 March 2001 charges are based on theoretical CO2 emission rates per kilometre.
The price structure was revised from 1 April 2013 to introduce an alternative charge for the first year. The "first year rate" only applies in the year the vehicle was first registered and is said by the government to be designed to send "a stronger signal to the buyer about the environmental implications of their car purchase". Charges as applicable from 1 April 2013 are: The biggest changes are that hybrid vehicles will no longer be rated at £0 and that cars with a retail price of £40,000 and over will pay a supplement for the first five years of the standard rate. For example, the 2016 Range Rover Autobiography V8 diesel has an official CO2 figure of 219g/km. Under the previous rates, VED was £620 for the first year and £280 for each subsequent year. For the same model registered after 1 April 2017, VED is £1,200 in year one, £450 in years 2 to 6 and £140 from year 7. Assuming ten years of ownership, pre-2017 rates totalled £3,140. New rates total £4,010. In addition, cars with a list value of over £40,000 pay £310 supplement for five years of the standard rate.
The official government website details the following: The pre-2017 VED structure based on CO2 bands was introduced in 2001 when average UK new car emissions ratings were 178 gCO2/km. The Band A threshold of 100 gCO2/km below which cars pay no VED was introduced in 2003 when average new car emissions ratings were 173 gCO2/km. Since to meet EU emissions ratings targets average new car emissions ratings have fallen to 125 gCO2/km; this means that an large number of ordinary cars fell into the zero- or lower-rated VED bands, creating a sustainability challenge and weakening the environmental signal in VED. This is set to continue as manufacturers meet further EU targets of 95 gCO2/km set for 2020; the reformed VED system retains and strengthens the CO2-based First-Year-Rates to incentivise uptake of the cleanest cars whilst moving to a flat Standard Rate in order to make the tax fairer and sustainable. To ensure those who can afford the most expensive cars make a fair contribution, a supplement of £310 will be applied to the Standard Rate of cars with a list price over £40,000, for the first five years in which a Standard Rate is paid.
Taxation for use of heavy goods vehicles on UK roads are based on weight per axle. Various classes and uses of vehicle are exempt, including electrically propelled vehicles, vehicles older than 40 years, vehicles which cannot convey people, police vehicles, fire engines and health service vehicles, mine rescue vehicles, lifeboat vehicles, certain road construction and maintenance vehicles, vehicles for disabled people, certain agricultural and land maintenance vehicles, road gritters and snow ploughs, vehicles undergoing statutory tests, vehicles imported by members of foreign armed forces, crown vehicles; each year on 1 April, vehicles constructed more than forty years before the start of that year become eligible for a free vehicle licence un
The tobacco industry comprises those persons and companies engaged in the growth, preparation for sale, shipment and distribution of tobacco and tobacco-related products. It is a global industry. Tobacco, one of the most used addictive substances in the world, is a plant native to the Americas and one of the half-dozen most important crops grown by American farmers. More tobacco refers to any of various plants of the genus Nicotiana native to tropical America and cultivated for their leaves, which are dried and processed chiefly for smoking in pipes and cigars. From 1617 to 1793 tobacco was the most valuable staple export from the English American mainland colonies and the United States; until the 1960s, the United States not only grew but manufactured and exported more tobacco than any other country. Tobacco is an agricultural commodity product, similar in economic terms to agricultural foodstuffs: the price is in part determined by crop yields, which vary depending on local weather conditions.
The price varies by specific species or cultivar grown, the total quantity on the market ready for sale, the area where it is grown, the health of the plants, other characteristics individual to product quality. Since 1964 conclusive medical evidence of the deadly effects of tobacco consumption has led to a sharp decline in official support for producers and manufacturers of tobacco, although it contributes to the agricultural, fiscal and exporting sectors of the economy. Laws around the world now have some restrictions on smoking, but 6 trillion cigarettes are still produced each year, representing over a 12% increase since the year 2000. China accounts for over 40% of current world production. Tobacco is heavily taxed to gain revenues for governments and as an incentive for people not to smoke. For a history of how tobacco has been grown and marketed, see tobacco and articles on similar topics; the phrase "tobacco industry" refers to the companies involved in the manufacture of cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco and pipe tobacco.
China National Tobacco Co. has become the largest tobacco company in the world by volume. Following extensive merger and acquisition activity in the 1990s and 2000s, four firms dominate international markets - in alphabetical order: Altria Philip Morris Cos. British American Tobacco Imperial Tobacco Japan Tobacco Altria called the Philip Morris Cos. still owns the Philip Morris tobacco business in the United States, but Philip Morris International has been independent since 2008. In most countries these companies either have long-established dominance, or have purchased the major domestic producer or producers; until 2014 the United States had one other substantial independent firm, which Reynolds American, Inc. acquired. India has ITC Limited. A small number of state monopolies survive, as well as some small independent firms. Tobacco advertising is becoming restricted by the governments of countries around the world citing health issues as a reason to restrict tobaccos appeal The tobacco industry in the United States has suffered since the mid-1990s, when it was sued by several U.
S. states. The suits claimed that tobacco causes cancer, that companies in the industry knew this, that they deliberately understated the significance of their findings, contributing to the illness and death of many citizens in those states; the industry was found to have decades of internal memos confirming in detail that tobacco is both addictive and carcinogenic. The industry had long denied; the suit resulted in a large cash settlement being paid by a group of tobacco companies to the states that sued. Further, since the suit was settled, other individuals have come forth, in class action lawsuits, claiming individual damages. New suits of this nature will continue for a long time. Since the settlement is a heavy tax on the profits of the tobacco industry in the US, regressive against smokers, further settlements being made only add to the financial burden of these companies, it is debatable if the industry has a money-producing long term outlook; the tobacco industry has been successful in this litigation process, with the majority of cases being won by the industry.
During the first 42 years of tobacco litigation the industry maintained a clean record in litigation thanks to tactics described in a R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company internal memo as "the way we won these cases, to paraphrase Gen. Patton, is not by spending all of Reynolds' money, but by making the other son of a bitch spend all of his." Between 1995 and 2005 only 59% of cases were won by the tobacco industry either outright or on appeal in the US, but the continued success of the industry's efforts to win these cases is questionable. In Florida, the industry has lost 77 of the 116 "Engle progeny" cases; the U. S. Supreme Court has denied the industry's major grounds for appeal of Engle cases. In June 2009, U. S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, called a "sweeping anti-smoking" bill. Among other restrictions, this Act banned the use of any constituent, herb or spice that adds a "characterizing