The tobacco plant was brought in Europe by the Spanish around 1550.

Its cultivation and use was officially permitted in the territory of the Ottoman Empire through Sultan Decree in 1687. Ever since, the tobacco circle began in the Greek countryside through the sowing and transplantation of tobacco in the fields and later the harvest and processing in the villages. It was a painstaking and wearing labour that involved a great part of the rural population.

In particular, in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, the combination of soil and microclimate contributed to the production of the exceptional Basma variety.

Basma is characterized by low nicotine levels, a suave and delicate fragrance and a balmy taste. For these reasons, it is considered the finest tobacco variety in the world.

The first decades of the 20th century, Basma was highly demanded and it was quickly established in the international markets. Consequently, Kavala became the primary exporting port of the country in terms of foreign exchange inflows. For an extended period, tobacco was a national product, the mainstay of the national economy.

As a matter of fact, in 1922 the refugee settlements in Macedonia and Thrace were based on the tobacco economy. Should the tobacco industry not exist, it would have been impossible to deal with the demographic issue that resulted from the Catastrophe of Asia Minor.