Wikimedia Commons Lytras Nikiforos
Tobacco was one of the items most commonly purchased by sailors from the ship's slop chest, and tobacco usually forms the largest single expense incurred by an individual sailor while on board the ship. Tobacco was sometimes given out by the captain as a reward for sighting a whale. Sailors rarely felt that they got enough to eat, and smoking helped to dull their hunger pangs. It was also a way to pass the time.