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Vaping Puts a Choke Hold on the Last of America's Tobacco Farms

  • E-cigarettes use cheaper crops from countries like Zimbabwe
  • With tobacco acreage at a Civil War-low, farmers seek options
A farmer works a tobacco field in Shelbyville, Kentucky.
A farmer works a tobacco field in Shelbyville, Kentucky.Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Hampton "Hoppy" Henton doesn’t smoke, but he’s someone who clearly has nicotine in his blood. Both his father and grandfather grew tobacco on the same Kentucky land he now farms at age 70.

His children, though, likely won’t follow in his footsteps, Henton said, and it’s easy to see why. Undercut by serious health warnings, the number of tobacco acres harvested in the U.S. has fallen from 2 million in the 1930s to 302,000 in 2018, lower than in 1866, the year after the Civil War ended.