Tobacco was first used by the peoples of the pre-Columbian Americas. Native Americans apparently cultivated the plant and smoked it in pipes for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. On October 12, 1492, in the gulf of San Salvador in the Bahamas, Christopher Columbus discovered tobacco. He and his crew saw the natives there growing the tobacco and soon realized that it would become a valuable commodity.
The name tobacco and its origin are still being debated. The word tobacco was used among pre-Columbian natives of the West Indies. Those who took it back with them called it tobacco; the Mayan verb "sikar" meaning "to smoke" later became the Spanish noun cigarro.
The largest of the islands Columbus would claim for Spain was named Isla Juana in honor of the ruler of Catile. Later it would be known as Fernandina. Native Taino Indians called it Colba, which Spanish tongues twisted into "Cuba." They also had a name for the curious dried leaves they set on fire in order to inhale the smoke - cojoba or cohiba.