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Tobacco Town

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Since Richmond’s early days as a center for tobacco inspection and trade along the James River, the city’s economic fortunes have been entwined with those of the industry that built and sustained Colonial Virginia.

Today, the warehouses and cigarette factories of Tobacco Row house apartments and offices, and cigarette smoking across the country is at an all-time low. The Medical College of Virginia, where industry-friendly researchers once collaborated with tobacco executives, became Virginia Commonwealth University, a leader in studying the impacts of e-cigarette use. Still, the one surviving cigarette manufacturer, Philip Morris USA, and its parent company, Altria Group, continue to be major regional contributors of jobs, tax revenue and philanthropic funds.

Here, we look at how the city and industry have evolved and what the future might hold.

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