A Time for Change - Plowing the Road
RYO Magazine is heading into its 16th year of publication. We are proud of the longevity of this project (and it really started out to be merely a project, but very soon morphed into something far more comprehensive and lasting). Because of the ever increasing complications of the subject of tobacco, the time has come for a summation of where we have been and where we are going, and . . . where each of you have been and where you are likely to find yourself as well. And then the sky was falling.
Before we begin however you will notice some changes. And I would like to first introduce a few new participants who will be joining us shortly. These are several fine companies who bring added and much needed diversity to the world of RYO. Remember please while this magazine has focused a great deal on tobacco and this cover page has been a very long excursion into the politics, science, and in general, the controversy from everything regarding smoking and health to the greedy unprincipled opponents of this extremely clean pastime (at least it started out that way - more on that in a moment). Regardless, over the past 16 years we have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest folks who we find as dedicated to quality and sensible consumption as we ourselves have proposed and followed for so many years and the following companies, some somewhat different in their product lines, all demonstrate the evolution we have continued to see in all aspects of this hobby. CMC (Custom Made Cigarettes) needs as much diversity as possible and there are many fields that will intertwine quite well with it. And most especially with the advent of relaxation of Cannabis laws, there is going to be a lot of things to consider and speak of.
It has been a great 16 years, filled with high points and even a few pretty low ones, not unlike life itself. However, the most important single thing to emphasize, over all of the bitter sweetness,especially over taxation, regulaton, and the introduction of so many inferior products as well as some down right stupid strategies, is that RYO has survived and even more today than before, the priciples of RYO will remain what each of us makes of it. Yes it will be more expensive but that will not deter the connoisseur or even the hobbyist who enjoys great tobacco and has the sense to regulate their usage to fit their own and unique personal budgets. Moderation will continue to be the true bell-weather of RYO, ringing loudest to those who have experienced the best and are unwilling to be satisfied with garbage. It is only fitting that, while temporarily, the number of people enjoying RYO will decrease somewhat, ultimately it is our belief that eventually everyone who enjoys a few good smokes will find their way to this industry. The pipe tobacco versus rolling tobacco issue will be resolved and likely will be resolved in favor of tax equalization and higher taxes overall. However as to true value, making one's own cigarettes, especially out of the finest of materials will always be the choice of those who chose to partake in tobacco use with the respect that such an endeavor requires and deserves. And most importantly, it will always remain, THE fiscally wisest choice for those that have the vision to see it.
One of the most satisfying (perhaps the most satisfying) aspects of producing this magazine over this many years has been the power shown by so many to innovate. And today, even with the less than satisfying though at best, temporary conversion of RYO Tobacco to Pipe tobacco, in all other areas of this industry, creativity and innovation has excelled. We'll return to the subject of RYO vesus Pipe tobacco abit later in this cover article BUT it should be known from the start that this publication will from this time forward, differ from all previous issues. No longer will all the political and regulatory outrages and diversions be covered in this Cover page. From now on the cover of RYO Magazine will focus exclusively on the positive and at times negative aspects of the RYO Industry that are internally generated by the industry itself. We will leave the rest of the world's attitudes about RYO to the Editorial Section. Here you will find best of the best as well as those things that this industry MUST improve.
For as long as Man has walked the Earth, RYO has existed. It has taken many forms but simply, it implies making things for yourself with materials YOU choose. The acronym RYO is applied to many activities of such personal nature from various artistic endeavors, the building many things and to even making one's own ammunition. And tobacco has been around nearly as long as Man has walked this Earth. Despite much flawed historical statements, tobacco has grown wild for eons. It is a naturally occurring plant of the nightshade genus. Sure its growing has been improved upon more recently (hundreds of years ago) but it has existed and been used by humans far longer.
In the mid
90s in the US a serious interest in making one's own cigarettes developed. At first it was
the choice of the connoisseur, but as with all things business or economic, there were
those waiting to make a quick buck by producing what has been the altogether too frequent
mantra of "cheap" tobacco. This has directly led to obscenely high taxation
schemes in the US and a lot of pseudo science about differences between "real"
tobacco and prepackaged cigarettes. In Europe the quality many packaged cigarettes is much
higher than those found in the US. Still Europeans, in much greater numbers, have been
enamoured with rolling their own for a very long time, using only rolling papers and
tobacco. The introduction of filtered cigarette tubes created a much faster growth curve
here in the US, where many folks had already been rolling their own for generations.
American smokers simply in general prefer the form factor of the filtered cigarette. The
downscale marketing philosophies of too many here, in a relatively short time, took the
quality above cost connoisseurship of the hand made cigarette and transformed it into the
So even though here, there remains an unsettled debate as to pipe tobacco versus rolling tobacco taxation, in the end, Quality will always win out eventually and become the definitive. Regardless of whatever the Federal and state governments in the US do, as well as the heavy lobbying efforts of both Big Pharma and Big Cigarette companies, in the end Quality will become the new mantra for RYO. We refer to it as CMC (Custom Made Cigarettes) and as more and more smokers experience and then understand the very wide range of benefits of fine tobacco including reduced consumption, leading to reduced addiction, and the increased purity of taste that truly fine tobacco provides, the rebirth of an equally fine industry will occur. Call it RYO or CMC or whatever you choose but never call it CHEAP! It is much too good for that crass appellation.
Every aspect of this industry is participating, creating injectors of unrivaled quality (Powermatics from Zico USA as a prime example). And not only does ZICO (pronounced zeeco) make the absolute finest Manual injector (the Powermatic1), but they also make the finest, by far, electric injector (the Powermatic 2) ever seen. And never ceasing to amaze, they came up last year with a mini version (shown above). Almost exactly the same dimensions of the previous best in the small injector category (Simron's EXP1000 which has now left the maket for good) the lastest Powermatic MINI is as good as any of the larger more expensive injectors, with the exception of both other larger Powermatics.
This little thing not only makes consistently perfect sticks, it is much easier to use than the EXP 1000. It also makes 100 mm sticks without hesitation and is extremely robust just like its larger siblings, and sells for around $20 or less. Again it makes PERFECT sticks, filter tight and fully packed. It comes with all of the usual superb tools except the bore bristle brush which is not needed because of the smaller footprint, but retains the soft, high quality brush and poking tool in case of jams. I can use this small machine interchangeably with either of the other two Powermatics and I do so without hesistation. These machine come in white (my favorite) and black (my favorite for cars). We will do a short video soon but I assure you it is really easy to use and even its smallness has been addressed by larger operating surfaces without changing it overall size.
Zico has other product in production and on the drawing table, even more to amaze. For instance they make the Powermatic S, absolutely the finest consumer grade tobacco cutter, for the emerging Whole Leaf sector which we will talk about next, And the only reason we consider this cutter/shredder consumer grade is to emphasize its intended and regulated LEGAL use. That is by a consumer , not any retailer who may wish to cut up tobacco for their customers. That is ILLEGAL, will be prosecuted by the Feds, and in general is not necessary anyway as the Powermatic S is not so expensive considering you are buying Whole Leaf tobacco without (so far) the ridiculous Federal Excise Tax of $24.78 per pound found on the best RYO tobacco. It runs around $270 but remember you are saving 24.78 for every pound you process. And the word PROCESS is key here as any retailer who cuts or otherwise alters whole tobacco leaf tobacco, is deemed a manufacturer and the fines for doing so without a license are enormous.
We have one of the first Powermatic S's and have had if for 3 years. It still works perfectly although during these last 3 years, there have been many improvements. A video will eventually be forthcoming as well. More magic from ZICO! You can go to Zico's website to see any of these marvels at http://www.powermaticinjector.com and there is more to come still. They even have a line of excellent tubes.
Tubes that are both incredibly beautiful, innovative and pristine (VeraCruz and Beretta from StVincent USA/ Silverfoil, ZigZag and others), and of course, tobacco blenders, some of whom never produced "floor sweepings" as blends, staying true to their passion for quality. Every one of those true believers will enjoy the re-emergence of RYO as CMC. Whatever the final acronym, it will not only be profitable but a source of pride driven by passion rather than greed for all who participate. Manufacturers who both understand and actually use their products are finally increasing in numbers.
This new scenario is not just wishful thinking. It can be
likened to the American car industry when manufacturers nearly destroyed their reputations
and customer base when trying to compete price-wise with the much lower cost imports from
Japan in the 70s. It took more than three decades for these manufacturers to regain their
once unrivaled dominance as to quality and reliability and they still have ground to make
up. And more recently the Japanese have experienced a similar situation in competition
with South Korean auto makers. It's an old story and the outcome is always the same. Cheap
does not equal Value!
Well that is history and as of now I am completely blown away by the prowess of the new Powermatic 150. It is as smooth as greased lightening and every bit as powerful as its slightly larger brother, the Powermatic I. The proprietary transmission is one of its secrets. Its simplicity is amazing. I cannot imagine ever breaking this thing, and while it is possible (barely) to jam it with great big hunks of poorly conditioned tobacco. It is so simple to clear it and to understand its workings, that I seriously doubt anyone will ever jam it twice. It is now my favorite, over even the magnificient electric Powermatic II. And here it is, the final version - a thing of beauty! I've prepared some videos on its use, highlighting some of its design parameters which I will post tomorrow. Let no one doubt the incredible utility of this new machine. It is elegance defined, and in my opinion even easier to use than the stellar Powermatic I. More will be available tomorrow, so sleep well and get ready for another detailed look at yet another revolution from the minds of ZICO,
The rebirth of the RYO industry will take some time but not nearly so long as the
auto industry experienced as all the components and talent and the incredible abilities of
American tobacco farmers remain in place. The only real change necessary will be the
commitment and marketing savvy to accept the new concept of, once again, Quality
being absolutely dominant over Cost. No compromise in Quality need ever
be the operating force in any or all marketing and production. Custom Made Cigarettes are
the future and to live up to that name there is no room for bottom feeders to any longer
pollute the product category. May sound harsh, but it makes perfect long term business
sense and satisfies as well the aesthetics of any upscale product for the consumer. Though
they may be building Ferraris at the price of Fiats, Cadillacs at the price of Chevys,
these products will perform and be heralded as the finest in the world.
By Section the new update will include:
Tobacco: Finally a new method for keeping one's tobacco at perfect moisture content is here. It is a product called the FreshStor CVault and it is the most effective and simple to use, two way storage container series yet devised. Go to the Tobacco section of RYO Magazine to see it in action.
This section will remain the most controversial and is the one we absolutely wanted to wait to update until we had one more chance (at the 2012 TobaccoPlusExpo in Las Vegas, in early Feb 2012) to finally and VISUALLY (first hand) verify what the various manufacturers are doing and what they intend to do if a couple of pending legislations pass. The legislations at the Federal level include the PACT Act (2010) which will effect online sales of true ryo tobacco products and other tobacco products such as smokeless (except perhaps cigars - more on that in a moment). This industry (manufacturers) and special interest groups, like the convenience store lobby all support PACT. (Click HERE to view in one place and read all the legal information regarding PACT and HERE for even more detail.)
Suporters of the Pact ActThey say that the internet sources of tobacco cut into the convenience store profits. However what they don't talk about publicly is that the vast majority of convenience stores are attached to gas stations and the oil lobby is a real power behind these lesser lobbying groups. Ask yourself, how many really great products would you buy at a convenience store. I can't think of one. They exist (or should) for those who need last minute or after hours goods to get one by until normal businesses open. Buying tobacco from these establishments is no more logical than trying to buy a good guitar or a good set of tools from them. Tobacco is a serious purchase and the customer is best served by people who specialize in it. Many online sellers of tobacco have a whole lot more knowledge of tobacco than you will find at any convenience store or unfortunately even more than many so called Tobacco Outlets that mostly sell cigarettes. Availability of products through the internet is a driving factor for brick and mortar stores to carry a wider range of products. With no competition from the "NET", states would have unlimited power to even further raise taxes and local retailers could very likely decide to carry a much more narrow selection of products as their customers would have no alternative choice. Much more on this in the Editorial Section when I return. I won't buy anything from a convenience store other than a drink (bottle of water) unless it is in the middle of the night while traveling, if I have been shortsighted enough to be prepared. For me that is exceeding rare. But packaged cigarettes are a huge business for CStores.
The second piece of legislation (to be kind) is known as the Tobacco Tax Parity Act, which involves the controversy created by a number of RYO tobacco manufacturers switching to pipe tobacco blends exclusively. Obviously the excise tax on pipe tobacco is 1/10th of that on rolling tobacco, so though we encouraged certain manufacturers not to go down this path, it was their choice. Congress now, constantly harassed by their respective state governments want to equalize the tax on both products by raising the tax on pipe tobacco to the same level as rolling tobacco, about $25 per pound. Most of you are already aware that rolling tobacco was raised by the latest S-CHIP from $1.03 per pound to this ridiculous $25 level. You can't blame the RYO manufacturers in trying to save their customers some serious money but our contention has always been that the RYO/CMC experience is so superior, that cost should not be an issue and CHEAP never should have been a promotional tool anyway. Yeah I hate the taxation schemes of both the Feds and the States but as far as tobacco, with moderate use of really good tobaccos, consumption usually goes down anyway and will always remain a better value than any packaged cigarette.
One state (TEXAS) even went so far as to begin taxing all loose tobacco at $1.10 per ounce in response to this pipe versus cigarette tobacco debacle. And the problem was exacerbated by certain retailers promoting the new pipe tobaccos for roll you own use. People just can't keep their mouths shut it seems. Anyway it has effected some of our favorite tobaccos, but those like Stokkebye, ZigZag, Republic, and Commonwealth were smart enough (or wealthy enough) to keep their cigarette tobacco lines, even if they decided to offer a pipe tobacco line as well. Stokkebye has been in the pipe tobacco business for very long time (4 generations) and D&R has all the qualifications to be a REAL pipe tobacco manufacturer. D&R practically controls the Perique tobacco supply which is an important component in many historic pipe blends. They have for a long time and still do use Latakia in their blends (another important pipe component), and they changed the cut of their tobacco dramatically rather than simply re-packaging as did some. Anyway this controversy will reach a head and eventually we'll all know where we stand and we certainly look forward to some kind of stability. In the meantime, Stokkebye rules at the high end (where most who really love tobacco should be) and Republic, with Top and Gambler makes good cigarette cut offerings we all are familiar with. The expanded tobacco strategy that Gambler Tube Cut has adopted (they still make regular Gambler) has some negatives and some positives. It appears that Premier has followed the same path but we need to see it to verify. Their original Premier blends introduced a couple of years ago were really quite good. Our readers are torn as much as we are about expanded tobacco. In Canada I hated it. While on a visit to CTC in 2001, Stephane David (then from CTC) and I went into a local tobacco store in Toronto to buy some tobacco. One of my favorites used to be Export A and they had that as well as Players and a few other brands of note. And they all came in three sizes of plastic tubs. Each tub whether it was 10 inches tall or 4 inches tall or 6" held 150 grams. What was that??!! That's right, it went from slightly expanded to REALLLLLY expanded. I bought a 4" and a 10" tub. Looked like a lot more tobacco in the 10 incher. Then I made a stick out the most expanded. Lasted 4 puffs and it was gone. And the taste was significantly different than the less/not expanded in the 4 incher. I talked to a few patrons who absolutely refused to buy the big tubs after being burned a first time. The point is the new Tube cuts and SuperRoll expanded blends from Republic taste a whole lot more like non-expanded Gambler than I expected. And the Tube cut in both experiments we did here along with a friend who owns a bunch of tobacco shops in Michigan who I trust scientifically, found that an ounce of regular Gambler would make about 30 sticks and an ounce of Tube cut about 38 sticks max. So its not THAT expanded which is why it tastes so much better than the expanded crap I found in Canada years ago. Anyway we'll explore this more. We have had numberof readers complain about the Gambler Tube Cut. Nothing like the volume of complaints we had about the New Polish McClintock - but that is another story altogether that will be told when I return.
There is much more politics to share on the Tobacco issue. For instance, here's a teaser: The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its Tobacco Atlas that has a lot of facts about tobacco consumption and where it is grown. On one page of this Atlas it MAKES the case we've been hammering on since our beginnings eleven years ago. According to the WHO, in 1960 it took 2.5 pound of leaf tobacco to make 1,000 cigarettes. By the year 2000, it took only .9 pounds to make the same 1,000 sticks. How you can even classify a packaged cigarette (except for Shermans and a very few others) as tobacco is oxymoronic. We'll show you the actual page when we get back as well as the misleading documents provided to Congress by one of our favorite anti-tobacco nanny groups that caused the S-CHIP excise tax hike to go through the roof. You're gonna love this trail of treachery.
ZigZag blends have improved continuously every year and now make some of the finest widely accessible tobacco out there. There is much more to this story which we will share with you when we return but suffice it to say that with a can of ZigZag (Dark Blue), you will enjoy yourself immensely. Oh yeah, as far as why cigars keep getting a break. It is not just the fat cats in DC liking cigars as many think, although that is certainly a part of the equation. Sources tell us what should already be obvious. The countries that provide most cigars and whose economies strongly depend on these exports to the US are very close geographically to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, and of course, Cuba. The US does not want to damage relations with Central American, South American, and Caribbean countries for fear they may once again (as during the Reagan administration - the Contras?) begin to align against us. Having traveled quite a bit to those regions in the last few years, North America is not particularly well thought of by many there. It is interesting to note that cigars made here in the US (Miami mostly) from components from the Latin countries have more severe regulatory requirements than the imports. Again more specifics when we return in a week or so. Interesting to note that we're informed that the most powerful lobbying group for the cigar industry in DC are the UN Ambassadors from the potentially affected countries. We are still checking that one out, but I would not doubt it for a minute. And lastly remember that Stokkebye became Villiger/Stokkebye and now is owned by Lane and it is uncertain as to the future of the brand itself but the powers behind all of this (Scandanavian Tobacco Group makes some truly kick ass (as good as it gets) cigars as well as the highest quality cigarette and pipe tobaccos in the world. We just don't yet know how the branding will finally settle out. And Organic Smoke, Inc. with their newewst Organics have finally bridged the gap between great taste and pure organic tobacco. I've never tasted an organic blend (their Virginia) like this. It is absolutely delicious. More on that blend as well.
Rolling Papers: This category is under almost as much attack right now as tobacco, at least from the FDA. Specifically, flavored rolling papers have been made nearly illegal, completely so for tobacco use (is there a caveat there?). However the many purveyors of fine rolling papers still have much to be proud of. Fine rolling papers we have not spent a whole lot of time writing about. The fact is that brands like Bambu (my go to papers for 30 years from the 60s on) are every bit as cool as they ever were and remain one of my very favorite. A tobacco or smoke shop without Bambu papers is operating under false pretenses. Of course there will be no flavored versions, but I've never been a fan of flavored papers no matter what I used to smoke or what I smoke today. Gizeh's Hamf (Hemp) remain a favorite as do all of the Zig Zags. Republic's Ventura Whites (Lights), JOB and Tribals are outstanding as are the Joker series from Commonwealth/RBA. HBI continues its huge line of papers but our favorites remain the RAW series as well as the really classy Elements (some now with magnetic closures - cool). HBI is a great source for retailers as they make not only their own incredible papers but carry just about anything worth carrying in the world of rolling papers from many, many manufacturers. Click on the HBI Tobacco banner below or here to order wholesale quantities of a huge variety of brands. Just go to the page and click on Contact at top or bottom or here to go more quickly and your store will soon be up to date. Again, none of these varied brands are flavored - not for tobacco use per FDA current postions. Read into that what you will and we will explain in a week. Safe to say the Rolling Paper Section has some comprehensive details to investigate and share as to the flavoring issue and ultimately the final rulings on the issue. For now they can be use for herbal mixtures only.
Tubes: There are a few new tubes in addition to the Vera Cruz line which will include in the future not only a slim (6.9mm) version in 84mm as well as ultimately a 100mm slim. (**see the Injector Section now to see what that is about). A new tube, the Beretta, made in the same factory as the VeraCruz is another designer quality tube that is pure eye candy. Gizeh has had their newest 25mm filter element tube, the SilverTip Extra, out for a while and more people need to try it. It is really nice with the expected benefits of the longer element one would expect. There are some really cheap-ass tubes out there as well, but after looking at them, we've decided pretty much "so what". And of course the Premier line, and the Top and Gambler and ZigZag lines are always good values and easily found. Much more on the whole tube picture (much more important to the future of this industry than you might expect is on the Filter Tubes page of this magazine. As with most other categories in this industry, innovation is excitingly energetic and continuing to increase in intensity.
Injectors: 2012 Here the story really gets exciting. (Please note there is already some new stuff at the top of the Injector Section). The Powermatic II, The Powermatic 1 manual crank. The new Easy Roller from Simron with variable speed control, the Casspin Closer and more. While the industry in general has been bombarded with legislation and regulation enough to drive any sane person to the nearest drug store, the innovation in injectors continues to accelerate. A Slim Tube crankstyle from Simron (the EXP2000) is on the way and could likely change this industry in very big ways (the video and the review of the prototype is already in the current Injector Section), Republic has gone DeLorean with the incredible looking T2 Version of the already well respected Top-O-Matic, as well as Republic's little red saucer shaped Gambler injector (think short throw manual sports car shifter) which we've had a year to try and break and have failed to do so, the Supermatic and Excel remain intact and superb. However one thing that we must mention, driven both by a lot of mail from readers and our own experiences: The newer larger pipe cuts are MUCH harder on injectors and consequently we do not recommend them for injecting. Yeah they will go into the tube, but they burn much less smoothly and evenly than cigarette cut tobacco and again, they put a lot of stress on the injector, the fact being that moisture content is ten times more important than ever before with these new cuts to keep from breaking your injector. Frankly if it says Pipe Tobacco on the package, I smoke it in a pipe. I'll share with you my rather elite collection of pipes that I've had and smoked for years and this new pipe tobacco, especially some of the D&R blends, are downright outstanding in a pipe. We also have a new design for a pipe under development that may make the transition (if necessary) easier for those who choose pipe tobacco over cigarette cut. More on that as well. There are a couple of very noteworthy electrics. There is an electric that has undergone a lot of tweaking since we first saw it a few months ago. The designer/manufacturer has gone to great pains to work out the kinks and we have huge hope that this will be a real winner. It is small, electric and uses a spoon and works now as well as it looks cool. There are older versions of this machine (the PowermaticII) out there, but we suggest you wait for the latest version which we now have for testing. It is far superior to its earlier iteration(s). For some, it may be the best electric out there for now and recently we began to feel that it may be the best spoon injector period. The Magnum is finished and but for the down turn in the economy, it would be available now. It uses a gear driven steel rod, (they lost the batteries) and this thing will inject anything that will fit through its nozzle, including rocks. We have one of the only two existing prototypes here and will show it in detail when we return. The push rod design is still the ultimate strategy and TSP really pulled out the stops on this final design. Incredibly powerful planetary motor engaging a direct gear drive. It's awesome, but will be more expensive than the original projections for the original Magnum but legal and financial hoops still have to be navigated. And finally Simron's new EasyRoller is doing some great injections and is priced right. Their new auger and slower speed motor is really changing our views os the potential of auger type injectors for the future. A high quality video of both the PowermaticII and The Easy Roller is on the Injectors page. Be patient. You will be rewarded with any of these machines. The injector world is really looking great!!
Rollers: There are a couple of new rollers worthy of notice. The existing ones are all damn good but HBI has made the effort to make a roller made from really futuristic and more natural materials. And there is a metal roller that is the best roller I have ever seen that was sent to us for our evaluation. We won't say by whom but it was a very large company. The problem is that we loved it, said so, did a personal DVD for the manufacturer with our highest recommendations and yet until we get to Vegas, we won't know if they actually decided to bring it into the US. It is very popular in the UK. And if they don't have it by now, I'm sure someone else (hint) will pick up on the design (barring patent infringements of course).
Grow Your Own: We did our first article on growing your own tobacco in July of 2000. Here is the link. It was obvious to us then that the day may come when a very large number of people would begin to see the benefits and perhaps even necessity of becoming "Tobacco Gardeners". We are a hell of a lot closer now than ever before. Jim Johnson still reigns supreme in knowledge (that he shares with the public) about growing tobacco and what seeds to get. His site (referenced in the 2000 article) remains http://www.seedman.com. We have each year grown small plots of tobacco just to continually retain and expand our personal knowledge of the best practices to achieve success in this endeavor. It really is quite easy and the satisfaction one always derives from doing things for oneself, combined now with the more severe economic/political component, makes this absolutely the time to begin (if you've not already started). Plants can be grown in pots, in small garden plots or in many cases, even indoors. The amount of production possible for one's own use (a very strong caveat) is astounding with little effort, a little knowledge, and some good seed. HBI is now selling a few varieties of seeds, but the Seedman site has hundreds of every kind of tobacco one could hope for. And again no one knows more than Johnson about seeds and personal growing endeavors. When I return we'll will show you the results of this past summer's plantings. We think you will be stunned as to the production and the ease at which it can be achieved. And remember, our goal as far as Grow Your Own is not to hurt the great manufacturers of fine tobacco. It is an insurance policy against a government that has been rotted to the core by special interest groups and others who have taken it upon themselves to force you to live like they do. Growing ones own tobacco may provide the ultimate hedge against such intrusions.
Last thing: You hear the word corrupt or corruption a lot lately. Please remember that this word not only applies to monetary greed or political chicanery. Its true meaning is rotting and decaying, and that we should find even more of a danger to our country and ourselves personally than all the Wall Street Gambling Casinos combined. From a rotten core, the corruption will spread to engulf the entire organism, and the only treatment when that happens is amputation. We have the peaceful and legal means of performing this amputation (career politicians and lobbyists must be removed) but if we wait too long, the corruption could be irreversible. We have before us a severe case of Gangrene in this country and all of you know the ultimate consequence of ignoring that.
And what can be REALLY done you may ask? The following has been at the bottom of this cover page for eight (8) YEARS. It holds as an exercise in logic, as much today as has it always.
Once Again - Our Position On Tobacco
It is our position that because of the sheer enormity of money that is involved in the tobacco debate, and the fact that such vast amounts of resource can breed fraud and corruption, as evidenced by the large number of claims of violations attributed to the cigarette industry, as well as counter-claims of fraudulent research methods by those on the other side of the issue, much more needs to be done to quantify the specific elements of tobacco smoke as well as specific elements of other sources of smoke and pollution in our environment that can lead to health problems. We therefore stress as a logical and necessary step forward, in order to ameliorate the controversy and lessen the divisive nature of the subject, that any and all tax revenues that are collected on tobacco, as well as all punitive damages collected on behalf of US citizens by all local, state, and federal litigations against tobacco, other than those funds already allocated that are needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
There you have it, a pretty comprehensive taste of what the completed new issue of RYO Magazine will look like. With few edits remaining and a little verification as mentioned above, it will begin to show up within a week of our returning: Right now there is a lot of new stuff on the Injectors page and the RollingPapers page to keep you interested and to prepare you for what you've read above.
In the meantime if you have not read what is below, please do so. There is a wealth of information there that remains timely and is, in reality, even more important to your daily lives than the products we review. In fact, if current trends continue unabated by people like you and me, all products we love in every product sector will face regulations unlike those seen in even the most repressive societies in history. And grand schemes supposedly in the public interest that in reality are only cash cows for the few must be seen for what they, in fact, are. It really is in your hands. So take another look below. Enjoy! For the impatient, click here to see how our precious FDA (now in control of tobacco) conducts its business. Its like reading a bad novel that is yet compelling simply because of its lack of focus or path. You can't put it down because you naively remain certain that surely it will eventually make sense and that something, SOME THING, will justify the effort. Good luck. More very soon. - Doug
This issue has been one of the most difficult to finish since our first issue nearly eleven years ago. More on that (a lot MORE) in a moment. First off though, if you have a broadband internet connection, check out the MultiMedia site and send your friends and/or customers there who may have questions about the MYO/RYO methodology. There are comprehensive videos covering all aspects of the experience. And there will be a lot more coming in the future. We are concentrating heavily on this visual aspect as it answers a lot of questions in a very straightforward manner - a manner that seems to be pervasive in our society where reading is becoming somewhat of a lost art. For whatever reason, it is essential that those cigarette smokers interested in perhaps migrating from the obsessive behavior of packaged cigarettes get a clear understanding of the advantages of MYO/RYO. And these many advantages far outweigh simply cost savings. Few retailers actively demonstrate the method. This we know from a lot of readers, especially those new to MYO, who have expressed amazement at the utility of the process. We got far too many letters daily from folks who were confused as to what MYO/RYO is. They are intimidated by the term "injection" and we have had more than a few questions like, "Is injecting tobacco better than smoking it?" That, at least for those that have access to broadband (thus the videos), has been eliminated for the most part. For those that don't, the questions persist. The MultiMedia site speaks for itself and we hope adult readers, old and new, enjoy it. It will grow as new questions come in and as new products emerge whose advantages can best benefit from visual demonstration. Mac users will need the latest Windows Media Player plug-in for Mac, easily obtained by clicking here. Windows users will need the latest Window's Media Video 9 as well, all easily obtained at the preceding link.
Now on to this new issue: This magazine was initially created to show not only the cigarette smoking public the advantages of MYO/RYO/CMC and to highlight what we felt, and still feel, are the best products available, but as importantly to demonstrate and warn of the direction our country (and others) are taking to satisfy special interest groups, in every possible sector of life at the expense of our freedoms. RYO has always meant more to me as a statement of personal choice and independence, than simply an acronym for a superior method of enjoying tobacco. This is the largest, most comprehensive issue to date. It is our intent to make subsequent issues more concise and return to our quarterly schedule. We have a lot of product to show you in this issue and have already accumulated a lot more for the upcoming issue which will be ready in early August after the RTDA show. We do periodic updates to current issues and in this one, one particular area should not be overlooked. As many of you know, we have been traveling extensively this last year, both in the US and abroad. This magazine is read in well over 100 countries and our travels reflect the interest in CMC (MYO) worldwide. .
Now (again) along with showing our readers product, it was, even from its early beginnings, our intention to make tobacco enthusiasts aware of the politics of smoking in general. These "politics" could well be defined as both regulatory and health related and our main thrust in these areas has always been quality, moderation, and public activism. Seeking the truth about tobacco has been of primary concern. The economy of the method has never been our point. Cheap cigarettes and cheap tobacco carry baggage that when used as the sole reason for moving to RYO/MYO, will ultimately destroy the "real" tobacco industry, and those who enjoy great tobacco will lose any reasonable access to it. And, as most know by now, our concern is for the often ill-defined differences between the "cigarette" industry and the "tobacco" industry. We have never encouraged readers to smoke and we have been highly aggressive in our belief that if one chooses to smoke, use the best tobacco you can buy and use it sparingly - like a good wine.
What has taken so long to put this issue together lies mostly in the domain of the rapidly changing regulatory and political situation that engulfs tobacco. While most of the regulations we now have and will speak of supposedly were aimed at cigarettes, most all of them, for various special interest group reasons, have landed squarely on the back of the rolling tobacco industry as well. Before we begin what may be a rather disconcerting journey for some, we want to make it clear that this page will outline the problems and some of the reasons for them. In the Editorial section you will find our best extrapolations of both solutions and what, in the very near future, given some intelligent and logical application of easily instituted possibilities, the rolling/make your own industry could look like in the future. You'll notice that we refrain from using the phrase "Stuff Your Own" It sounds egregiously ignorant and the acronym SYO is even worse than MYO. We even had a contest you can read about in the Review Section that addressed our efforts to come up with a better descriptor of all that Make Your Own is and can be. Basically, "Custom Made Cigarettes", whereby those who truly enjoy tobacco, have absolute control over the content of their smokes. There is no shortage of new products in this issue but most of them have arrived rather late in the context of the originally intended date of this issue. We wanted to have a chance to evaluate all of them extensively before passing the information on to our readers. So again, there's a lot to see in this issue. So why is this cover piece so long overdue? Read it and you'll see why.
Before proceeding, we STRONGLY recommend the two books shown at above left and at right. The book "Tobacco" is an incredible treatise on perhaps the most controversial plant ever to grace the planet. More on it is in the Tobacco section but it is a must read for all in order to put the current tobacco controversy in striking historical perspective. Crichton's "State of Fear" is a definitive look at what drives nearly all things intrusive into our personal lives including the anti-tobacco movement. While its plot focuses on the junk science of "Global Warming", its principles applies to anti-tobacco strategies as well. The point is not whether Global Warming is occurring. The point is that it is big business as is anti-tobacco, and frankly the profits generated from "managing" these two "threats" are not only enormous (Trillions of dollars), but these profits are the sole reason for the existence of these organized purveyors of doom. Global Warming may be a fact, but there is no profit in it being a natural earth cycle. The big profit arises if it can be blamed on entities with deep pockets - like manufacturers, the energy industry, or SUV makers. I'm frankly a bit surprised some bright bulb with some financial angle hasn't already accused smokers of contributing to excess so called Greenhouse gases as well. We need to look at reality, not rhetoric. There is even research out there that is showing that trees, and vegetation in general, produce a lot of methane (a major greenhouse gas) along with the much welcomed oxygen. There have been many warming and cooling cycles that have impacted the earth for many hundreds of millions of years. Global Warming alarmists fail to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the current condition is solely man-made. We agree that the benchmark for "reasonable doubt" should be relatively low considering the global consequences if man actually were to have sole responsibility and control over this phenomena. Even such a lowered threshold has not been reached. An example of how dumb these protagonists are and how dumb (or gullible) they assume the general public to be can be found in the film, "The Day After Tomorrow." There the lead character has a paleo-climate model that needs to be called into use to help understand and predict the further progression of the sudden climate change that is devastating the earth's populations. In a speech at a global warming conference near the beginning of the film, as well as several other times in the film, when explaining the efficacy of his model, he stresses it is based on a paleo-climatological event that happened 10,000 years ago. Obviously he is admitting quite early in the film that such a dramatic climate change happened well before humans were capable of the pollution that he blames for the current crisis. Both critics and advocates of the film seem to have missed this vital point. It speaks, as well, to the core of the anti-tobacco movement's excuse for their excesses. And that is the differences between a casual relationship, a causal relationship (click here for a decent though somewhat circular look at this favorite term of the Epidemiologist), and a directly attributable definitively sole cause. The first is a weak possible relationship, the second only a little stronger possibility that a thing may likely be a factor in a given outcome, and the third is, by definition, the ONLY cause. Jumping off a 100 foot cliff onto rocks is logically the sole cause of a death, whether the person smoked or not. All but the last are merely today's version of Mammoth Flatulence.
Read Steve Milloy's column linked below to see just how silly and dangerous this kind of narrow thinking can become, especially when it attempts to lay blame for situations that may have entirely different causes, some of which may be just as preventable by simpler means. I must repeat that the science is still not conclusive as to the "cause" of what appears, at least, to be a climatic change. Perhaps Al Gore is right. Perhaps it is human intervention even though it has happened frequently before humans could have been the cause. It's not that the theory itself is the culprit. Intelligent and creative humans and the science that results from such beings are an essential part of our own evolution. The problem is not with the creative or inventive pure scientists. The problem is how those not qualified to interpret the science choose to use parts of any scientific theory as a launching pad for their own agenda which is almost always profit motivated. Again, read another Milloy article at the link here. You will be amazed and probably not too hard pressed to see how certain groups may be able to profit enormously if what you read about comes to pass. A hint - think "chemical companies" that make fertilizer.
Now if global warming opportunists could prove that humans and their machines were the only cause of global warming, or even the leading causality, we would be well advised to listen and change our behavior, and you can bet strict laws to assist us in doing so would be quickly forthcoming and widely accepted. However, since historically the Earth has expressed this global warming (disease if you follow the analogy) before and well before the machinery of humans, one must take great care in accessing responsibility lest we overlook perhaps other more important factors and waste a lot of resources (money) following a literally dead end trail. Read Steven Milloy's (Junskscience.com) latest in a long line of criticisms involving the huge cost of the Kyoto treaty and the tiny amount of impact this multi-billion (eventually multi-Trillion dollar) boondoggle is estimated and even admitted to eventually have. Click here for the article and note the archives at the immediate right on the page you will be taken to. Read all the articles on various subjects. They contain vital information regarding all kinds of pseudo-science scams. In fact. make www.junkscience.com one of your bookmarks. What you will find there is what we've been telling readers for years about the highly profitable business of pseudo-scientific fear mongering. The article on the Kyoto Anniversary is shocking to the extreme and it appears now (the Kyoto Treaty) to have been predominantly an experiment to see if humanity could be coerced to support the high profit geo-political science of environmental activism, no matter how weak the actual science behind any of it may be. Yes, we have been poor stewards of our planet, but we need real solutions, not imaginary ones that enormously profit the very few and wind up accomplishing little or nothing other than the redistribution of wealth from the producers of the world to the non-productive, and puritanical nannies.
Much in the same context, were tobacco to be PROVEN to be the sole cause of all the diseases it is blamed for, the public health establishment (which is often a job creation service for those who lack the skills to do anything else truly useful for the health of humankind and make money at it) would be howling to make tobacco illegal, just like any other proven dangerously toxic substance. (A bit below you will see what that establishment feels about completely banning tobacco.) And their accomplices, the anti-smoking, pharmaceutical, legal, and lobbying interests of all involved would have no choice but to join in the eradication efforts. But again, their unidirectional frenzy over tobacco creates the risk of overlooking something perhaps far more dangerous in our environment. The American Cancer Society has no "cures" for cancer and conventional medicine understands the parameters of the disease only a little better than it did 50 years ago. But where's the money/profit in an, as of yet, unknown cause? One would have to spend money to find that unknown factor, not extort it from a single sector of the population, and they would have to use the money on the project, not on everything but. In reality, if tobacco were banned, none of these groups would have income or jobs afterwards unless, of course, they could find another cash cow to rape. And the fact is they already have. Obesity. As mentioned, below is look at a piece of legislation attempted in North Dakota a while back. Read it and then reconsider the true aims of public health departments, the anti-tobacco coalitions, including ACS, AHA and so-called other disease "prevention" organizations and, of course, the pharmaceuticals and other interests that fund them and profit even more from them simultaneously
It is an interesting fact that during the great Black Plague in the middle of the last millenium, the equivalent of the public health system (circa 1400-1600s) decided that rats were the cause of this plague that was initially killing a few hundreds of Europeans. Their brightly narrow and "quick fix" solution was to exterminate all the rats. By doing so the FLEAS, that were the true carriers of the plague, were forced to find a new host other than the rats. The fleas selected humans, which resulted ultimately in the deaths of as many as an estimated hundred million people. Politically, these health bureaucrats had much to gain from finding a fast solution - someone or something to blame - and who likes rats anyway - or smokers for that matter. Heroes they would be in the same way justice officials, from investigators to DAs make political hay by quickly solving crimes (front page stuff) even if only to find later they hung the wrong man (page eight news at best). The medieval (interesting word 'mid-'evil) solution (killing the rats) let loose the plague and magnified the tragedy exponentially. If we apply the highly "flexible" (to be kind) techniques of epidemiology using terms like casual, causal, and cause, we would wind up with something like this. For a time the rats were thought to be the cause of the plague. However even if this were true, the actual cause of death was a pneumonia like illness. More specifically, the respiratory system shut down along with a very high fever. Like the cliff jumper above, the actual cause of any death is either cessation of brain function (which is still debated re: Schiavo) or the heart stops. Whatever the reason for this to happen, the actual cause of death is one of those two things.
This is further demonstrated in homicide forensics by the examiner's (coroner) preoccupation with specifics. For instance if a body is found dead in the water but has a bullet hole in it, it is always the job of the forensic pathologist to determine if the dead person died before or after entering the water. This is highly relevant to future prosecution of the case and to the penalty the guilty party will receive. It is too bad that epidemiologists who make up these inane statistics about everything that has a financial benefit to some public health group (remember the 400,000 obesity related deaths reported by the CDC just last year that was subsequently downgraded at least three times, arriving finally at a little over 23,000) don't do the work of pathologists to find out what is really killing people. Further down you will hear Dr Ronald Natale in the Larry King interview state that "we really don't know how cancer kills or how tobacco smoke causes cancer." Natale goes on to say that the organs of those who die from cancer are often in quite good shape. The forensic pathologist, if they were involved in these studies, would likely find many possible reasons for the person's death and smoking would be absolutely a casual association at best. No doubt people do die in part because they smoke. Natale mentions one out of eight smokers get cancer (mostly lung cancer, which by inference leaves out all the other forms of cancer that tobacco is blamed for). A true causal (as opposed to casual) relationship according to an epidemiologist would require all smokers to get lung cancer. Therefore by the very fact that all smokers DON'T get sick, even causality must be defined as a rather weak association. Now I've studied quite a bit of the research done on lab animals regarding carcinogens. To be classified as a carcinogen, a substance must cause a tumor in a lab animal, mostly rats and mice. Even the most carcinogenic compound tested don't cause these tumors in ALL of the subjects and each research project differs as to how many of a group must be so afflicted to satisfy the pre-determined "test results" they seek.
The anti-tobacco, public health establishment endangers us in the same way that the "plague" medicos did 600 years ago. They focus on tobacco only and search no further for what may be the real cause of cancer (or even what cancer really is, in its widely varying forms) or any other pernicious human ailments for that matter to a degree that will prove beyond a doubt the other or actual causes. Those other causes have no money to conveniently extract (heard that before, but it bears repeating). And this lack of intelligent use of existing scientific tools, preferring the weak science of statistical analysis (Epidemiology) is causing the same knee jerk reaction with the Avian (Bird) flu you've heard so much about lately. Rather than find ways to manage or actually kill the pathogen (the virus) or even better, create immunity from all viruses, they are simply killing the birds. Now viruses are not unlike fleas. They both need hosts. They are parasites. And eradicating one host will only lead to the the viruses' search for another. And viruses are MUCH better at this than are fleas. They can change symbiotic sources in a matter of a couple of days. In the world of virology, it's referred to as MUTATION but it is really adaptation. And the "science" of mutation is understood (or at least appreciated) hardly better than 500 years ago, at least in its overall ramifications. Better isolate but leave some of the birds alive and figure out how to kill the virus without killing the host - certainly before you, at minimum, know the degree of risk of viral host upgrading. Ultimately, when one talks about organisms being good at finding new hosts, one must only look to the anti-everything litigation movement for a perfect example. Too bad a vaccine has not been developed to combat this group of parasites.
Look at it this way. The American Cancer Society and other such groups (with the possible exception of NCI - the National Cancer Institute, that actually HAS done some cutting edge science on the possible viral and genetic components of cancer) with its many billions of dollars has come up with no solution to any cancers other than early diagnosis, surgery (based on early diagnosis), radiation (oh yeah, can you say further mutation and new cancers), and drugs (financial windfalls of epic proportions for pharmaceuticals even though the Chemo is often so toxic, it can kill you almost as fast as the original cancer). All highly profitable, short term exercises for certain groups of businesses (including non-profits) with really no need to be successful to the degree that any other normal product producer must. After all, the victim is already dying from cancer - right? The medical related profits (and costs) continue to soar. Of course, the main focus of late, the prohibitionist activity, (in other words things NOT to do rather than any positive activity) has its own, hugely profitable rewards as well - rewards that feed the other four regimen groups quite nicely and justify more revenue gathering through increased taxes and lawsuits. Public Health professionals (hah professionals - the third oldest profession - witch doctors - after hookers and spiritual leaders - before even lawyers) and publicly/privately funded non-profits like the Cancer Society and the Lung Association, who pay their leaders enormous salaries, and are required to spend only 5% of all money they've amassed on their missions, have everything to gain from maintaining the problem. The non-profit racket (no overstatement is possible here) is finally getting some well deserved criminal attention as is the Loyal Order of Money Grubbing Scum Bag Lobbyists (LOMGSBL). There aren't enough jails to hold them all if it would come to that.
Now even with all the money involved aside for a moment, we emphasize once again the sheer folly and danger of making presumptions as to disease causation. For years we've been emphasizing the difference between Tobacco and Cigarettes. They are two different things. One is a natural substance, the other a chemically formulated, artificial product. Even more important perhaps is what is used in the growing and manufacture of tobacco and especially in products that cigarette makers heavily use like reconstituted tobacco sheet. Tobacco has been around a long time. It has been both friend and foe to humans intermittently through out its history. (Read the book mentioned above "Tobacco" - please). Even the American Cancer Society concedes that lung cancer was relatively rare before the birth of manufactured cigarettes. They attributed this solely to the fact that manufactured cigarettes made it easier for people to smoke. Nonetheless, it should be clear that even before the first manufactured cigarette was produced, a lot of people used tobacco. That is clearly why cigarette companies emerged, to satisfy and enhance an existing market. Like the poor scientific methodology of the Great Plague era, these so called charitable health groups have trouble with facts because they fail to look for real facts. Instead they look for a single villain, one with deep pockets, ignoring all alternatives and nuances that make up the real world of threat analysis. They use the terms tobacco and cigarettes interchangeably, a practice we've been trying to clarify and change since our first publication. Many in the scientific community understand that pesticides and other garbage that finds its way into cigarettes may likely be a much more strident culprit than the tobacco plant itself. Now there is no doubt that most tobacco, for reasons of crop yield, has been exposed to pesticides of one kind or another, natural or not. Check out the following link here. It keeps moving around on the ACS site so if it becomes inactive, go to the American Cancer Society site and search for "risk factors for lung cancer."
Radon, which is a naturally occurring gas (from natural uranium decay) in our environment has long been linked to lung cancer. To what degree is still uncertain and since there is little profit in more definitive assessments, (except for the proliferating radon intervention companies which, like the asbestos irradication attempts of a decade or more ago, often prove to make the problem worse not better), Radon is given minor consideration. That may be a serious mistake, as serious as blaming tobacco seemingly for all the ills of mankind. The simple solution as to Radon (for which there are already maps provided by satellite imaging - for maps by state and for the US in total, click here) would be to see how the lung cancer rate that is attributed to smokers is geographically distributed and then compare that to each area's naturally occurring Radon levels. Unfortunately, there is little profit potential in simple solutions and the fact that Radon and Smoking may explain why certain people get lung cancer and others don't would fly in the face of the pseudo-science that generates obscenely large profits for the anti-smoking establishment. Again, there is no one to sue over radon - it occurs naturally.
For now let's just look at the following provided on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website regarding Radon. Also on that site you can find maps (again click here) of Radon distribution in the US and begin to wonder (as do we) how many of the high radon areas have larger rates of lung cancer that are now solely attributed to cigarette smoking. What is most interesting about what follows is the admission from the EPA as to the methodology of risk assessment for both Radon and how it applies to the same statistical models that were used to invent tobacco and health data. If you look hard enough in this world you will find contradictions to everything that public health claims. You don't have to read between the lines or read from sites that are at odds with the public health community. Again this is from the EPA and you can begin to access the entire wealth of information by clicking here and scroll to the top of the page the link takes you. This (below) is only an excerpt from a very robust site on Radon and risk assessment so make sure you read the entire page this link takes you to.
After reading the above, pay particular note to a statement found on the American Cancer Societies site (see the ACS link just above the beginning of this Radon section) and see how it differs dramatically from the EPA information. The ACS site states:
The Shelby Amendment
The Shelby Amendment, which we've discussed in previous issues, was created to provide a watchdog element on supposedly scientific research that results in regulations and laws. Click here for a short overview and above for greater detail of the Amendment itself and why it is so vital this Amendment be enforced. The research community does not like this Amendment to the Freedom of Information Act. They whine that it implies that we don't trust them. Well . . . .I don't . . .especially when their findings have not only been proven wrong, in some cases long after regulations and litigation based on their findings have already done their damage, but most importantly, when the researchers themselves have vested financial interests in the outcomes of a given "research" project. Drug companies, the FDA, and the EPA are especially unhappy about Shelby which should be all the reason you need to encourage its rigorous enforcement. When drug companies push the efficacy of certain "cessation" drugs, these same drugs can become the basis for regulations. How? Well, for example, with the new drug varenicline, touted by its maker to be more effective than previous smoking cessation drugs, the anti-tobacco movement immediately jumps on this as both a source of revenue for themselves (which often comes from the drug maker itself in return for the anti-smoking group recommending its use), and as yet another reason to push the idea that smoking is hard to kick, and therefore should be taxed even more heavily and regulated even more aggressively. People who have been smoking moderate amounts of real tobacco have almost no problem quitting if they really want to. Even those addicted to packaged cigarettes can quit if they really want to. People are not as weak as the public health community, or the pharmaceutical industry, would have them believe and the constant dogma about how hard it is to quit, is counter-productive for those who wish to quit.
The problem with most smokers is that they really don't want to quit. They enjoy the experience. It is often, for many, much more of a recreational pleasure than a chemical dependency, again at least for those who've used moderate amounts of real tobacco. Even Pfizer's (the manufacturer of Chantix - the commercial name for varenicline) "research studies" show that on average 22% of smokers quit for the one year trial while 18% of those given Zyban (the other non-nicotine cessation drug) were able to quit. In the same tests, about 10% given placebos were able to quit. While these numbers may seem significant to some, they are provided with absolutely no contextual look into the the lives and personalities of the subjects. Were the 10 % who quit with placebo only therapy stronger willed than the other groups? Did the placebo effect have any relationship with those that were actually given the "real stuff". These kinds of questions are what the Shelby Amendment is intended to address. If it is not obvious yet to you why we need oversight, keep in mind that most of what folks hear about prescription drugs is fed to them by the drug companies themselves. Journalists have become lazy. AP and UPI reporters (stringers) now basically provide press releases fed to them by representatives of pharma companies. For instance, the AP story that first appeared in most newspapers, big and small, regarding varenicline (Chantix) was as follows: "Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, is a critical public health imperative that takes an extraordinary toll on health care systems. In the United States alone, the cost of treating smoking-related diseases is an estimated $150 billion a year," said Karen Katen, Pfizer vice chairman and president, Pfizer Human Health. "The priority review designation for Champix underscores the significant patient need for new therapies that will reduce the health burden of smoking." No reporter, in any story I could find, went further than the press release, not even to ask Katen questions on the specific results of medical trials. As far as I'm concerned, those AP and UPI stringers are no more than mouthpieces for the pharmaceutical industry. They are not even close to being journalists.
If you search online for "Nicorette Gum" you will find a large number of sites, especially forums, that in large part stress that the addiction created by these nicotine replacement products is quite problematic. Do these newer non-nicotine cessation products have side effects? You bet they do and they are often more severe than the minor cravings one might face when one is dedicated to quitting. And these drugs - all of them - are really expensive, high profit items for drug makers. None of these questions are asked or answered in drug research studies and there is really no oversight in the FDA hearing process that approve a drug for use. As you will see if you read the FDA hearing documents regarding IRESSA that we highlight further down, FDA hearings have no counter argument provided by anyone. The FDA listens to representatives of the drug companies, to researchers employed by the drug companies, and to a handful of patients who claim to have been helped by the drug in question. Read the document on FDA IRESSA hearings. We provide the link here as well to this complete transcript of the proceedings. It's long but highly instructive as to the weakness of the FDA process, most especially when drugs are given a fast track approval based on how badly society needs a drug (in most cases the "fast track" seemingly has more to do with the size of the pharmaceutical company offering the drug).
Not all drug companies are monsters and all drug companies have many times provided needed help to those who suffer. What we want to note regarding them is that the temptation from the huge profits derived from drug manufacturing is overwhelming for even those of high moral fiber. Where there is high profit, there must be oversight, especially when some the profits are used to create legislation that makes the use of the product nearly a requirement to the eye of the consumer. This the Shelby Amendment addresses but unfortunately, to date, there have been almost no reported uses of the power of this amendment. Read more on the www.cato.org website regarding this and other interesting attempts to "oversee" all kinds of political/economic/legislative/environmental/public health and non-profit boondoggles.
The MSA (Master Settlement Agreement)
The American Legacy Foundation, (set up by NAAG, the Attorneys General's National Association that forged the 46 state Master Settlement Agreement, as part of that Agreement), has well over a Billion dollars in its kitty. Yet it pleads for more funding while spending a mere 130 million per year on its mission including salaries and percs. Its CEO, Cheryl Healton, a couple of years ago took out a near million dollar personal mortgage loan, secured by the Foundation, for a home. In fact, it would be in your best interest to go to the American Legacy site (www.americanlegacy.org) and under the link "About Us" look at their financial statements. You simply MUST do this if you want the knowledge necessary to cast intelligent votes in the future for those that state they are unwilling to further support this growing scandal. The personal loan mentioned above is at Note J (about page 14 under "loan to officer" - the page numbers appear in Acrobat as you scroll the right side slider button down) and just above that is an incredibly generous life insurance policy that is paid for by the foundation but owned ultimately by CEO Healton. The current financials (2005), to save you time, can be found at: http://americanlegacy.org/americanlegacy_file_persistence/auditied_FS_summary.pdf . The previous year's financial statement, where they received their last large payment from the Tobacco Settlement (about $300,000,000), which they received ever year from 1999 to 2003 can be found by clicking the link for 2004/2003 financials (again after you go to the About Us /Financials link). Reading these documents may take a little effort on your part but you will find many interesting things there they've done with all that money, including lots of vehicles, and a ton of investing (both here and abroad) to maintain/increase their financial power. Those who are adept at understand accounting should let us know their opinions of what they see there. However, even the layperson will see things there that have little to do with their mission - which is ostensibly to curtail Youth Smoking, which is once again on the rise even with all the money spent so far to intervene.
Read through the whole thing. Remember all the amounts are in thousands (i.e., if it says 28,000 it means 28,000,000). After these people got their initial 300 million from the first MSA payment in 1999, they began investing it, here and all over the world. The interest they receive alone on these massive investments is often greater than the amount they spend on the programs they are chartered to support. In fact over 8 Billion dollars in investment transactions were conducted. No doubt their financial advisor fees of over $3 million per year were justified. The numbers are huge and complex as is the financial document itself. You can hide a lot in a large and complicated space. They spend (again) over $3 million per year on financial investment advice alone. You would be well advised to see where your MSA tobacco settlement money is going - so read it. You'll need Acrobat Reader to read the PDFs.
In all fairness, we do compliment this organization for at least supplying this information on their site as, for most non-profits' financial disclosures, one must contact the IRS or walk into the non-profit's office to get their form 990 to obtain this information. The 990s are more detailed as to specific salaries and other items and anyone can request and get them. If you do it through the mail with the IRS, you have to pay a small fee and there are redactions - if you walk in their front door, they must give it to you free of charge, or for a small copying fee and the information is more complete. You will also find that even though this organization was initially well funded (again $250 Million the first year and $300,000,000 of your tobacco money for the next four years - an expense that the pertinent cigarette companies simply passed on to the smoker), they still found it necessary to take out two $30 million loans and another $20 million loan a bit later to fund "expenses" Why? Because they put most of the initial money in various-term investments or property. The fact that the lawyers at NAAG are supposedly overseeing this operation, leaves me with little confidence in their oversight even though two of its members always sit on the Legacy board. Currently, they get about $40 million per year from tobacco. You can see the section of the MSA Agreement where the funding for this organization is outlined at this link. Click here. You will also see that they (all benefactors and participants of the MSA) had a very specific mission and certain restrictions on attacking the tobacco industry. Many lawsuits have evolved from the latter. In Acrobat PDF files the pages of interest as to this Foundation, (which has had several names including the Nation Education Foundation, the Master Settlement Agreement Foundation and ultimately the American Legacy Foundation) are pages 32-38 as numbered in the document itself. However in Acrobat they are 42-48 (some pages that are indexes and tables of contents are not numbered in the original document, but Acrobat counts them anyway). On page 33 of the actual document is the heading Establishment of a National Foundation. This is your starting point.
And here, using Oregon's fairly current regulatory attempts as an example, is the same kind of data that was used by the various 46 states to justify the lawsuits that resulted in the eventual MSA settlement. You can find much more information on this state specific legislation and the number's game employed by clicking here. Part of the page/section is reproduced below. Note that this link is to the State of Oregon's DHS - Department of Human Services, (in other words the Public Health Department) website. Public money was spent to put it up and the law it supports is a legislative activity not one that the voters had any say in. It is representative of the kinds of tactics (number gymnastics) used over the many years by the states in order to justify their portion of the MSA money and to justify their prohibitionist policies, which in the end serve ultimately to justify their revenue raising by taxes and lawsuits. Look at the numbers below and realize that most of the so called costs of smoking to the state, even if one were to believe that the numbers themselves were anything other than extrapolated (modeled - refer to the section above regarding "Radon Studies" for more on modeling for profit) and skewed data, clearly shows that the state itself admits to spending $350 million in direct medical expenditures (not the $1.5 Billion in the headline) and even that number includes federal money, the percentage of which they conveniently leave out. As you can see MOST of the estimated cost, (again the word "estimated" leaves a LOT of wiggle room with, it seems, no verification required) was borne by insurance and cost paid by individuals and most telling, even the bulk of that cost estimate was based on such nebulous statistical forays as "Indirect costs of lost productivity due to illness", and "Indirect costs due to premature deaths", the latter being the largest slice of the pie. Both are clearly "estimates" with absolutely no real data possible to support such claims. These are precisely the kinds of "estimated" numbers that the states were using to sue the large cigarette manufacturers that resulted in the MSA settlement. These numbers remain the excuse for the states NOT to spend the bulk of revenues extracted from smokers since the 1998 MSA Settlement on anything remotely related to Tobacco Intervention or health care for those who may claim damage from smoking (packaged cigarettes). The states continue to emphasize their need to "pay back" all of the past lost revenue due to smoking related health care rather than use the money for current programs. At the bottom (the last line) of this little exercise in creative accounting is the disclaimer (if you will) that these numbers were from the CDC. Now, the CDC did no specific studies in any one state. The states used the CDC numbers (which even today remain controversial to the extreme) and divided them up according to population. It is these kinds of unsupported, non-scientific generalizations that continue to feed the anti-tobacco movement. It is extremely well fed with your dollars and with neither your permission, nor with any hope of you receiving any direct benefit from the money extracted. We have little sympathy for the big cigarette industry as you must have realized while reading these pages over the years. However as we will continue to explore, there is a great deal of difference between processed tobacco by products such as used in packaged cigarettes and real tobacco. Even more to the point, the burning of ANY natural plant substance, just like real tobacco, produces pretty much the same chemicals, sans nicotine. So for the effort highlighted below to have any credibility whatsoever, the term "Tobacco Use" should be replaced by "Packaged Cigarette Use." Again more on that later. Here is the pitch for the "Workplace Law." Two underlined words, can and economic, are worthy of note.
So the bottom line of the above is that less than 20% of these so called costs to Oregon were paid by Oregon with an undefined portion of even that borne by the federal government. The costs of lost work days and premature deaths are the worst kind of irresponsible extrapolations with absolutely no data to support the assessments. Further, they state second hand smoke CAN (not does) cause illness, and the fact that this scheme focuses completely on "economic" cost and not on the general welfare of humans is most telling. Remember, I do not like smoking indoors and I don't like smoky environments. I do insist however that businesses have the right to exclude non-smokers every bit as aggressively as establishments exclude smokers.
The MSA and all of its ramifications present a true tragedy for American democracy and free capitalism. Regardless of the questionable practices of the cigarette industry, this agreement has provided little to address the problem and has encouraged local, state and federal governments to become more addicted to tobacco than smoker's themselves. Most everyone in this country is unhappy with the inefficiencies and corruption associated with this settlement (except, of course, for those who are getting rich from it). Congress insisted on tracking the MSA, tasking the GAO (General Accounting Office) to do so. Click on the following link to venture to a PDF provided by the Government Accounting Office, GAO, that Congress demanded be published showing how the states have been and are using their respective share of the MSA funds. In some cases, the states have actually used the money for tobacco (cigarettes again) intervention programs. In most cases, the state's records in this matter are poor indeed. In fact many of the state's have already borrowed on their future MSA shares to the max and all future revenues are being used to simply payback these MSA secured loans. Much like the worker who goes to the "Cash Connection" to borrow against next week's paycheck. Again, this linked document (click here) is a fairly long read but if you don't thoroughly explore this stuff, you will never have the whole picture of just how large the problem is and how little control even your elected government has (or wishes to exert) over these kinds of coerced programs.
Non-profits, in total, are among the biggest businesses in this country - and the best paying for those that control them (other than certain trial lawyer firms that get very rich suing companies for alleged social and business related wrongdoing - it is important to note here that the fees these law firms get are enormous - like the 2 Billion dollars one firm got for helping litigate the MSA settlement and another that got over a Billion). Of course, the real dog work of these non-profits is done by volunteers, both generous of heart, and armed only with dogma lacking any concrete scientific information. Their CEOs are literally in a class akin to Royalty whereby, unlike top tax paying industry CEOs, whose salaries are frequently attacked, they have a federal tax code guaranteed advantage and they are tough to pin down for performance evaluations as their missions are NEVER intended to be accomplished. People just give them money (or are forced to through taxation) and all those donors have extremely limited control over where that money goes. Keep in mind that all tax free (non-profits) are again, required by law, an expenditure of only 5% of their take be applied to their mission. Even targeted donations have an expiration date if not spent on the "target." More worrisome is that there is no requirement for them to succeed in their mission. Private sector businesses and even most politicians can't get away with that lack of performance for very long. So they justify their existence by making a lot of noise about all the things they do. Looking only at two subjects - natural disasters and disease, it is apparent that these non-profits are abject failures. However in the business of wealth generation (for themselves), they are amazingly proficient. Want more? For Instance . . . .
The head (CEO) of the Oregon State's Goodwill for PORTLAND AREA Chapter ONLY pulled down over $800,000 per year until enough people found out about it and complained. It is now down to around $650,000. The head of American Cancer Society nearly 3/4 of a million per year. The numbers are staggering. The Red Cross more than 1/2 million per year + percs (which nearly doubles that) for its revolving door CEOs who keep getting "replaced" for "political" reasons. With literally Trillions of dollars in funds and endowments, the non-profit industry and ensuing scandal that is waiting to detonate regarding them, will be of unprecedented proportions, and the problem has grown exponentially since the non-profit industry got involved in the tobacco issue. You can bet when that cash cow is finally dry, they will find new cattle - fast food, SUVs, sugar treats, soft drinks, and yes, we speculate soon, caffeine (look out Starbucks - you've got temptingly deep pockets AND, your lattes are fattening AND doctors for a long time have urged their patients to go easy on the coffee and caffeine, which has recently been classified as an addicting substance).
This new wave of extortion in the name of the public good has already started and now includes new hiring and employment practices that insist on controlling the personal behavior of employees, even in the sanctity of their own homes. You as tobacco users have had the dubious honor of paying for a whole lot of it initially, but be aware that ultimately every person in this country, who has a passion for anything that a handful of people may not appreciate, will be attacked. The core idea of non-profit charitable organizations is a laudable one. The execution has been an alarmingly under-regulated, under-scrutinized and in general, an enormously costly failure when defined by the actual positive accomplishments they can honestly claim. The only solution is an all-out war on these institutions, a war that will make their war on tobacco seem amicable by comparison. If we lose this war, this country and its citizens will eventually live under a tyranny even more destructive than those enforced at gunpoint. The all pervasive tyranny of the mindless, the irresponsible, and the hopeless.
So before we look at the bad news and worse case scenarios, which are frankly fact already, or likely to happen very soon unless serious intervention is undertaken by all concerned citizens, we need to show you the true face of the enemies of freedom - of those parasites that drive the vehicles of corruption, and of those who are their dupes. And let it be made clear here that we've as much contempt for the dupes as we have for those whose corruptions nurture and co-opt their weak minds and principles. It is not our intent to dial into and spread the very state of fear we reject as a motivating force. Anger and refusal to comply, and then action is not fear, it is indeed the inherent human right of self interest. We continue to implore our readership that the ONLY solution lies in individual positive activism consolidated ultimately into positive group action. That is the only path to regaining control of not just tobacco use but all related issues that threaten to control our most personal behavior and completely undermine the concept of personal responsibility. We will begin with examples of the kind of unidirectional thinking as well as the self-serving hypocrisy that has been at the forefront of the anti-tobacco movement from the beginning. It applies to future intrusive attempts by those few who would exercise control over the many. We will follow with a few examples of the foregoing with the proposed and soon to be instituted new regulations on your rights to acquire tobacco. Its not a pretty story and when you're finished reading, keep in mind that we (a lot of folks in and out of government) are not yet at the point of definitively uncovering the whole scandal. We won't stop until we do, but for now here's some interesting information - a look at the real face of the antagonist(s) of this story. It really comes down to this. One should not judge a person based on who they are or what they are, or most especially who or what they SAY they are. People and organizations should be judged by their actions alone. It's as simple as that and is the only reliable measure of a human being or a group. And no matter how grandiose their public statements on what they believe or the weight of their background or credentials, it is what they do and have done that is pertinent. In the same way, organizations cannot and should not be judged by their "mission" statements. No matter how altruistic their stated goals may be, it is their actions that speak most loudly and accurately. And the following couple of absolutely documented activities and discourses illuminate actions on behalf of the participants. You don't have to take anyone's word for their motives. What they say and do is more than revealing enough and is part of the public record.
As with any good story one must begin with both protagonist and antagonist. Here, for plot's sake, obviously the patrons of the MYO/RYO industry is the protagonist as a free and unitary being, (perhaps smokers in general but the MYO/RYO methodology we find far more defensible than merely the act of smoking) while the antagonists are numerous. Since life is never black and white, there will be, we feel, a lot of common ground established potentially between this industry (or any movements its existence generates), its proponents and those that are seemingly against it at this moment. This is personal for me in the context that I don't equate packaged cigarette smoking with tobacco usage. This is a narrative of what has gone on for the last few years, much of which we have written about, some of which is new information even for us. We will find allies among other "libertarians" whose enjoyment of the "seasonings" of life will eventually be challenged as well. We'll start with a news article that should well begin to illuminate (brightly) the true intentions of some of those who claim to be most opposed to the very existence of tobacco. Go get your reading glasses. The print is of necessity small for reasons of space. Please note the text we've outlined in red is felt to be most pertinent and disturbing. From the Grand Forks Herald, Jan 1, 2003, Grand Forks, North Dakota:
NORTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE: Tobacco ban gets
lit up in House
Note: As mentioned before, we used small print and will continue to do so with all of the reference articles in this section. Get your reading glasses if you must. There is so much here, that space will not permit larger type to fit efficiently. So . . . let's analyze what you've just read. First, it seems that the anti-tobacco groups, who were highly instrumental in killing this bill, believe that tobacco bans would not be effective and at least one member felt a ban would drive tobacco use underground. Now I ask you, what is the difference in a partial ban, which is precisely what higher taxes and regulation on smoking is, and a total ban. Both would seem to have a similar effect, the partial ban (tax) perhaps less so but still an analogous effect. In other words, as far as consumption, these anti-smoking groups, all well established, self-appointed protectors of the health of everybody, made it clear that banning tobacco may not reduce its use - at all. This is a fair representation of their statements, I think, perhaps even understated. They also bemoaned that they would lose all the revenue they live on (anti-tobacco once again is a very BIG business) and all of their cessation programs would suffer. I ask simply, "If there were no tobacco to be smoked, why would their cessation programs be needed at all?" What we have here is a clear example of the dichotomy operated under by the entire anti-smoking movement, whose very existence (and paychecks) rely on tobacco taxes (and other taxpayer funded government programs), donations from dupes, and, of course, lawsuits. These organizations are clearly as "hooked on tobacco" as the members of the legislature whom the bill's sponsor admonished - for being just that.
Grosz, the sponsor of the bill, also made reference to two other points that need examining. First, even though tobacco is "claimed" to kill 1,000 North Dakotans per year (no idea where the actual figures comes from - that's right, you've heard it above) the self proclaimed watchdogs seem ambivalent to the proportions of that presumed tragedy. More striking yet, using his figures once again, even as the state brings in $39.7 Million per year in tax revenues from tobacco, his figures show that the state purportedly loses $351 Million in medical and lost productivity costs. That's nearly ten times more than the revenue they take in. A very poor business model to anyone with a 3rd grade education or a $5 calculator. Even if they were to raise the taxes to the level the governor wants, the shortfall would still be well over $200 Million per year, again assuming any of the figures above (other than the revenue the state actually takes in) have any basis in reality whatsoever. The truth is that the figures the states throw out as far as cost related to smoking are pure BS and always have been. You can never pin any state official down to where they get their figures (they are in fact pure extrapolations) or whether they include costs paid by insurance companies for covered workers or by residents personally. In fact, were told they do, which means that in more than a majority of cases (however many that may really be), the states don't pay a thing for smokers who get sick. Nonetheless, they add the cost to the total (again that total being highly suspect to begin with) and of course they apply all illnesses to anyone who admits they smoke, regardless if smoking were a minor, major or no cause at all to the distress of the patient. We already went through this above but some things seem to need to be repeated in order to get the required attention. The other side certainly uses this tactic in compliance with the theory of "say something long enough and loud enough, and it will eventually become fact." The very idea that the vast majority of the costs that states claim are based on (as quoted above)"Indirect costs of lost productivity due to illness", and "Indirect costs due to premature deaths" is so offensive to the thinking human that only people with an intent to profit could embrace such mythology.
This kind of sheer fiscal nonsense is being played out nationwide and frankly worldwide, from local level smoking bans to the Federal attempts at Internet Tobacco control (more on this as well). This nonsense includes statements by ACS and others that smoking bans don't hurt businesses such as bars and private clubs. In nearly every case, those who actually own these establishments disagree vigorously, to the point that the latest restrictive law passed in Washington state that would ban all tobacco use in all venues (other than "conveniently" Indian tribe lands and casinos) has already generated new proposed amended legislation that allows a business to disregard the ban if their revenue dips 10% or more. The amendment failed its first test but continues to be pursued. It is interesting to note here that while I typed the preliminary version of this, suddenly on national news appeared a piece that downsized the CDC's estimate of the impact of obesity on folks from 400,000 deaths per year (a strangely familiar number) to 120,000. Currently the estimate is now down to less than 30,000. Suddenly and recently that figure is back up. Come on America. Wake up. None of these numbers have ANY basis in reality. They are at best, made up, non-rigorous and highly convenient extrapolations for the purpose of fund raising or lawsuits, and the time has come for those that use them, to be audited for source and accuracy and aggressively prosecuted for blatant fraud. All one has to do is look at the CDC mortality tables we keep posted on the Editorial page to realize there simply "ain't enough bodies" to go around for support of these estimates, especially for those under 65 of age.
In fact these, along with other "facts" that have permeated the debate on tobacco (not cigarettes - again they are processed tobacco products that use some really nasty chemicals in their processing) are rampant in our society. On almost every subject there exist myths that have been propagated to not only enhance special interest agendas, but even more so to enhance their "special interest" pocket books. There are many writers and researchers out there dispelling these myths. Steve Milloy (www.junkscience.com) is frequently used here as a respected example of such seekers of truth. There is even a Discovery Channel program "Myth Busters" that deals with some of the more innocuous myths - such as what really happens when you put metal in a microwave, but even more to the point is a new book by John Stossel of ABC News (shown above left) that really brings home the point that our entire society (and the larger world for that matter) are more susceptible to sheer superstitious myth than ever before. Why, because it is more profitable than ever before. We should all take part of the blame and shame for allowing such manipulations by special interest groups of every stripe whether it is the CDC or WHO (World Health Organization - a UN hitman). Read the book. Read all the books we recommend. You will grow a well rounded shell of skepticism that will help protect you from the sheer enormity of BS we face every day - whether it be from media or from government, and most especially from so-called health activists who could give a good damn about your health. They want your money folks and control over your life in order to keep getting it - that is the bottom line! As in the title of the above book and from the Firesign Theater's (for those old enough to remember that great wacky comic ensemble) classic album of the 70s (available on CD now) literally nearly "Everything You Know is Wrong." And as with all the books we recommend, if they are not available in paperback, don't be afraid to own a hardback copy. They are a little more expensive but trust me, you will keep these books and re-read them many times for many years to come! And share them with your friends. A great way to spread the word of healthy, intelligent, and logical skepticism.
Next, as to the health risks of smoking, do not make the mistake that smoking will have no impact on your health: While we are once again, NOT proponents of smoking, we do feel people have the right to at least enjoy the practice privately assuming whatever risk they, after studying all of the literature out there carefully, shall deem likely, and without absurd taxation that funds everything BUT smoking related programs. We are certain the paltry existing, purported scientifically rigorous research data (sans Epidemiology which is based entirely on widely variable and suspicious statistics) has been skewed, confused, misunderstood, or down-right lied about. Further, the fact that the government (and private groups) are collecting revenue based on what they consider a poisonous substance, seems to have been missed as a clear violation of the trust we are expected to place in these entities. We've said it many times before. If tobacco is that dangerous, it should be outlawed like any other toxic substance. It should not be a source of profit for the very same folks who claim it to be a killer. Think of it this way. How would the populace react if the government allowed victims with AIDS to have unprotected sex with others as long as they paid a tax so they could? Not much different is it?
Here's yet another link that you will find interesting. In fact, in this issue there are many and, once again, if you really want to know the depth of the scandal that is brewing you need to read everything you can. This linked page concerns the dichotomy of cigarettes versus real tobacco. It is yet another piece of the puzzle that allows certain elements in our society to confuse the real issue - that being package cigarette regulation and litigation or tobacco regulation and litigation. In fact, we'll repeat a link to an even longer dissertation by Bill Drake on the same subject. The two links are below - the first is much shorter than the second. Bookmark and read them in sections if necessary - but read them. You'd better know what you are smoking and you'd better understand that even in rolling tobaccos, cheap may not wind up being so cheap.
OK! You've heard it all here before, but let's now look at some interesting dialogue from transcripts taken from a Larry King Live show on the subject of smoking. These transcripts are available on the CNN site. We'll save you some time, but we urge you to read each related transcript in its entirety (there is an index of topics going back a number of years at the first link below). Now King is an avid anti-smoker who smoked 3 packs a day for many, many years. He's 70 now. And again he smoked manufactured cigarettes. He had a heart attack a while back and tends to completely relate his condition to smoking. The fact that he was extremely overweight (Larry used to be a really "big" guy) and the epitome of the A Type personality does not seem to figure in to his own assessments as to the cause of his prior malady. However much we respect King for some of the things he's done, he is either a dupe or corrupted. His various shows on the subject pander to the anti-tobacco activists and often result in embarrassing moments when doctors can't agree on what it is about smoking the harms some people. I clearly remember in a prior show from a couple of years ago his asking a noted cardiologist how cigarette smoke harms the heart. The cardiologist replies were nearly incoherent and wound up with "we don't really know", followed by, "well it can cause a stroke." King changed the subject immediately. I also remember (perhaps the same show) him asking actor Kirk Douglas if he thought his stroke had anything to do with smoking. Douglas replied to the red faced King that he hadn't smoked for over 20 years prior to his stroke. We choose here to use the precise words from one of his shows that should make for interesting reading, enough at least to stimulate our readers to view the entire transcript. The following are excerpts from conversation regarding smoking on one of his shows. The full transcripts of all shows from 2000 to Current are at the following link. We'll explore other pertinent ones next time:
The first show we'll look at is a fairly recent one from April 5, 2005, the day that Peter Jennings announced he had lung cancer. Jennings, a heavy smoker (several packs per day - up to five early on) for many years, quit 20 years ago and the announcement of his condition obviously prompted the subject of this particular episode of LKL. There are several panelists in whose statements we are interested. It is not our intention to defame or denigrate any of the following people. They each have their own stories, triumphs and tragedies, and other human baggage that we all carry. Their statements that follow are meant to illuminate the various factors, misconceptions, and mystery involving the tragic disease that is lung cancer. There is little doubt in our mind that cigarette smoking (especially abusive amounts) carries some serious health baggage for some. However does the risk rise to the level to justify the extortion of hundreds of billions of dollars from smokers who will see little of that money vested in any programs that will actually mitigate, to any degree, any health risks that are present? And, again, remember cigarettes are one thing and tobacco is yet another. The differences in usage behavior and dose are striking for most MYO enthusiasts. One other thing that happened not long after this show was the announcement by Christopher Reeves' (Superman) widow, Dana, that she had lung Cancer. Dana Reeves was a life-long non-smoker. The news media went crazy over this as Chris' last nine years of life as a paraplegic due to a riding accident (let's ban horseback riding) was a model of hope for many with paralyzing ailments. They also went crazy over the fact that Dana was a non-smoker - for precisely one day. Within two days, the fluffy blonde anchor (certainly no journalist by any stretch of the imagination) Paula Zahn, made the following statement in a report saying, "Dana Reeves has been diagnosed with lung cancer", followed with no pause by the statement "you can find out more about the effects of smoking and lung cancer at CNN.com." CNN is Larry King's agenda laden launch pad as well. The point is Zahn never again mentioned that Dana was a never smoker - ever again - in any of her news reports on Dana that I saw over the next few weeks. This kind of reporting is shameless and its tendency to leave out pertinent facts is pervasive in every network or cable news broadcast system. So dialogues like the one that follows have enough time to be pretty revealing both in what is said and what King fails to ask as follow up. We do that for him in red. The link to the specific show follows but we have below laid out the pertinent dialogue below. And one last thing before we begin - both Dana and Peter died within a few weeks of undergoing chemotherapy. I will always wonder how long they may have lived with no such toxic treatment.
The "cast" includes, Lori, the widow of Morton Downey, Jr., (the well known talk show host who died several years ago of lung cancer and who was an avid PRO Smoker Rights Activist up until the time he got cancer and then became an avid and paid anti-smoking advocate, though, according to Lori, he continued to smoke). Next is Tammy Faye Messner (remembered forever as the former evangelical partner of Jim Baker, who went to prison for wrong doings regarding church funds - just think raccoon eye makeup - she is the most frequent guest on Kings show, a fact that completely amazes me about King's perception of who his audience is,. Following her is Alan Landers, "The (former) Winston Man", (a two time survivor of lung cancer who began smoking at age 9 and smoked 5 packs per day and who has a huge lawsuit against tobacco companies pending) and finally Dr. Ronald Natale MD, (an oncologist at Cedar Sinai Hospital in LA who heads major lung cancer research projects and testifies before various FDA drug approval hearings on behalf of Chemo and other cancer related products he's tested for Pharmaceutical companies - he's involved in a lot more than that as you'll see). We'll examine a few of each panelist's statements and make comments after each of their utterings. While these are excerpts, they are not conveniently edited to make a point. These are direct quotes, though abbreviated and are provided so that you will experience what we experienced as we watched the show. My personal comments in red, are again, the follow up questions I would have asked were I sitting next to Larry or other points I feel are cogent to the discussion that were overlooked or are important to note. Full context is available, again, at the specific transcript link above and we urge you to read the entire transcript for the appropriate date. One last thing before we start. I hate doing this. I hate calling attention to the tragedy of others. Lung Cancer is poorly understood and is a rabid killer once you get it. I have all the empathy in the world for the victims and suggest you take the possible negatives of smoking seriously, even if the true correlation between "tobacco and health" MAY be exaggerated for the benefit of the greedy. One last thing before we start: In every Larry King show I've seen on the ills of smoking, he uses the dynamic duo of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Though we don't use it in its entirety here, it is in the complete transcript. What we note on this is the fact these "Odd Couple" characters were/are in real life quite similar as to how they live(d). Tony was a complete health nut, practically a vegetarian who exercised daily, and took great pride in eliminating smoking from the sets on which he worked. He even claims to have perhaps been a partial founder of the non-smoking environmental movement in the oft used (by King) video clip. It goes like this - King to Randall:
KING: Because you were the most anti-smoking person that I knew.
Ok fine, I don't allow smoking in my audio or video studios. It can gum up the electronics. I don't like it anywhere indoors - that's me. Nonetheless the point is that Tony died a couple of years ago at the age of 84. He died from a respiratory infection from complications after what was essentially bypass surgery. Now how the hell does a true health advocate (in both diet, exercise, and smoking) need a bypass procedure? Today the raucous Jack Klugman is 84. That's right - the heavy drinking, fat eating, cigar and cigarette smoking, no exercise, walking health risk that was Klugman's character and nearly identical to his real life persona is still around and kicking. The point is that these two could not have had more divergent attitudes towards health and Klugman survives while Randall does not. Logically there must be more to health and longevity than the public health people will ever admit. Take the food pyramid defined horrible eating habits, little exercise, smoking, and mix it with happiness and low anxiety personality type (the type that spends little time worrying about what others may do or enjoy) and you may have a formula for longevity that works far better than the strident, missionary, evangelistic and uptight anxiety ridden prohibitionist approach. George Burns lived to be over 100 even with a steady diet of cigars and who knows what else. Again extrapolations and predictions are nearly useless when it come to human mortality. Put more directly "Everything the Public Health Community Knows May be Wrong." So now the King show transcript with again the most pertinent comments in red.
First, Lori Downey: After a brief video clip showing Morton poignantly, and I feel honestly (in his mind) sharing his experience with tobacco and lung cancer, (remembering of course the high voltage lifestyle that Morton was famous for) Larry turns to Lori Downey and says:
Next Larry asks Dr Ronald Natale, the esteemed oncologist (cancer doctor) (I use the word esteemed as he has, in his multi-decade practice helped a lot of folks with lung cancer to ease the suffering - but cures - no) - the following question:
A little later (King tends to ramble with his lines of questions so, though this next part occurs a bit later, we bump it up to here because it relates to the previous question. Larry asks the following:
Now two other links that should prove entertaining as a break before we continue. The first is a disclaimer page from LungCancer.org. This is basically a PR firm that rallies support with materials regarding smoking and lung cancer. You will see in this disclaimer that they absolve themselves of any responsibility for accuracy or to stand behind any of the so called "facts" they publish for the benefit of the public health lobbyists. The second link is to a page that discusses the strange coincidence of actors, including John Wayne who died from lung cancer (which was blamed entirely even back then on his smoking habits) after working on a film in the deserts near nuclear (not nuculear GW) test sites. Both pages are required reading as stated before to get the whole picture.
Before we continue with Dr. Natale and drug companies, we thought it prudent to show you what he said to King regarding cigars"
We will finish this issue's cover with a couple more interesting things we uncovered during our research over the last year. To say what you've seen so far is small in comparison to the volume of material we've collected during that time is an understatement of epic proportions. The fact is there are at least 400 pages of material of this length in the can. I can only guess that it will someday be a book. Certainly all the writing and documentation is done. Time will tell. However, those most juicy tidbits that we've shared in this issue would be incomplete without this last item. It is a study in the sheer audacity of the non-profit/anti-tobacco/pharmaceutical/governmental/public health coalition. These groups, having bled hundreds of billions of dollars from smokers with little to show for it, had the added nerve to sue Philip Morris under the umbrella of the RICO statutes for another 280 Billion dollars. The document heading below can be found by searching, but it is three hundred pages of some of the most inane legal arguments I have ever seen. I would not recommend its reading to even the most bored of legal scholars. This case was thrown out on the grounds that RICO penalties did not apply, and the extravagant monetary awards were reduced to a limit of $10 Billion. However, money aside, it is the Appellees in this case that are most disturbing. The US Government teamed up with the Pharmaceutical industry, armed with reams of testimony for non-profit anti-tobacco groups and public health departments to try to get the Court of Appeals to allow the former $280 Billion amount to be used as a set sum at a lower court level decision before a verdict was even reached. When you find this document, you will see that the opinion written by the judge throwing this out was one of surprising insight and courage. Even so, the fact that the Pharmaceutical industry was suing the very companies they do business with for their nicotine replacement products is so absurd that it is difficult to write about with a straight finger. Read Forces.org's Norm Kjono's column regarding this case. The following link has both his comments and a direct link to the complete decision. Again, it is frustratingly long but if you want a detailed look at the collusion between the aforementioned groups, this really nails it. The Clinton administration started this but Bush's Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has taken it up with full permission from his boss. For those of you who think Republicans are on the side of honesty and freedom, think again. This travesty is supported by both parties. Now do you finally believe me when I tell you it is TIME for a new party, one that respects the rights of business and individuals over incredibly powerful special interest groups. Sure Big Cigarette companies are special interest groups as well, but they didn't get that way by suing people. They produced a product that could be freely chosen to use. It is a lousy product and should not be confused with real tobacco, but the fact that these Appellees were asking for even more money, after the MSA already was shown to have been money wasted on everything but tobacco intervention, demonstrates that this coalition has gone over the edge of sanity. Again, read Norm's treatise on this and if you can stand the pain, the whole decision. This is not over yet. The parasites will never give up until they are put completely out of business. Here's the link:
And finally we again urge you to read Stephen Baxter's book, Evolution. This piece of docu-fiction has fascinating insights into those parts of each of us that have not changed since the first living creature appeared on earth. The give and take of survival and the absolute necessity of controlling one's own destiny as well as the fragility of the species and the durability of the planet. It is perhaps the most interesting piece of scientific extrapolation I've ever read. And it is a fun read as well. Do yourself a favor and explore with Baxter what has been, what might have been, and what could be. You won't be sorry. Enjoy - the Ed
Our greatest hope at this magazine is that we will stimulate our readers, and those they come in contact with, to begin a journey that involves increased self reliance and control over every aspect of their personal lives. If you don't like taxes or the legislation your representatives are supporting, find new candidates and vote for them. If you work for someone else, start your own business on the side. Stay flexible. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, practice moderation and by all means have FUN. Exorcise the bitterness life sometimes injects and replace it with a sense of adventure. Look up once in a while and remember the dreams we had of the stars when we were kids. Begin to think of the larger universe where opportunities unimagined lie. The only limit to the achievements possible for each and every one of us are the ones that we place on ourselves or allow other to place on us. With these principles in mind let us once again state the purposes that guide the production of this publication.
Most of the information in this magazine is directed solely at those people of legal age who already smoke, those who are trying to reduce their tobacco intake, those wishing to spend less money on tobacco, and who are interested in creating their own cigarettes using high quality tobacco products of their choosing - in general, those who wish to have, in our opinion, a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, wish to encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a more sane, more logical approach for those that chose to smoke, that involves common sense as to quantity, coupled with a strong commitment to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed without obsession, and hopefully, with minimal health risks. No sensible person should assume that the intake of smoke or other pollutants of any kind can be advantageous to your physical health, and we feel that any tobacco use implies demonstrable statistical risk of varying degrees for varying groups of people. We submit that, if you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start. However, we are likewise extremely interested in future determinations as to the degree of risk based on dosage and smoking material and encourage much more research to be undertaken, using sound, scientific methods that can be looked at as universally credible.
It is our position that because of the sheer enormity of money that is involved in the tobacco debate, and the fact that such vast amounts of resource can breed fraud and corruption, as evidenced by the large number of claims of violations attributed to the cigarette industry, as well as counter-claims of fraudulent research methods by those on the other side of the issue, much more needs to be done to quantify the specific elements of tobacco smoke as well as specific elements of other sources of smoke and pollution in our environment that can lead to health problems. We therefore stress as a logical and necessary step forward, in order to ameliorate the controversy and lessen the divisive nature of the subject, that any and all tax revenues that are collected on tobacco, as well as all punitive damages collected on behalf of US citizens by all local, state, and federal litigations against tobacco, other than those funds already allocated that are needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
The emerging Make You Own philosophy, (which is basically to regain control of our ability to chose and be proactive in our views) especially as it extends well beyond the scope of tobacco, is potentially a very powerful political force that, with enough visibility, could foreseeably change the way our government looks at the control of its population and better define the risks governments take in supporting tax-driven, social engineering schemes. We at RYO Magazine are dedicated to the prospect of accurate and fair information regardless of subject, as well as the uncompromising appreciation of quality above profit. Profit will come from quality and have more lasting benefits as well. We also believe that given complete and honest data, humans are more than capable of making wise decisions. With the recent increases in taxation on packaged cigarettes in so many states, even greater interest is being directed at this magazine and the industry as a whole - this is increasing daily. We feel an obligation to play it straight with our readers, who come from every point of view imaginable, from every continent on the planet, as they are our most valuable resource.
As MYO becomes more well known, some will say it is just another way to encourage people to smoke. While patently untrue for now, the industry must be wise enough to never take that path regardless of the possible financial rewards. Smoking is self-indulgent, private behavior and, if conducted responsibly, in moderation, and away from those who want no part of it, it MAY one day prove to be less of a health risk. We can only go by what we hear from our readers, personal acquaintances and our own personal observations. That is, that package cigarette smokers who convert to the MYO methodology tend to smoke less, appreciate the flavor of tobacco more, and eventually gain control to the point that tobacco is a freely chosen, occasional treat and often they eventually smoke so little that their one or two cigarettes a week are quite possibly of little consequence to their overall health. Certainly less so than poor diet and lack of exercise. Providing that kind of alternative to the lifestyle of millions who may be damaging their health smoking pack after pack of manufactured cigarettes daily, we feel can only be viewed as an improvement. Smoking tobacco or breathing in any kind of smoke or other particulate matter must certainly pose some health risk. Our aim is to find the truth as to dosage and degree of risk. However, since we are convinced that the MYO method has improved the lives of many smokers already, attracting more current smokers to an environment where quitting is far easier and moderation is a fact, seems a worthy enterprise.
Check out the links below and keep abreast of what is happening in the tobacco wars. These areas directly effect you and your right to smoke as well as other endangered freedoms more and more every day. Keep in mind though, that our position remains that non-smokers should not be exposed to other's smoke. We feel that businesses that want a smoking environment should have that choice and be able to discriminate against potential employees and customers who do not smoke. The reverse is in wide practice already - the ed.
1. http://www.tobacco.org - A pretty comprehensive site with pertinent tobacco issues definitely skewed towards anti-tobacco but with some minor balanced exposure to other sides of the question. We suggest you keep abreast of what is there as it is always good to both know what the potential enemies of free choice are up to as well as experience for yourself some of the absolute unsubstantiated and anecdotal twaddle that is thrust into the hands of the media and Congress. This site is a perfect example of why we need much more scientifically sound and current research on tobacco and health. This site is interesting if for no other reason that it will keep you up to date on the Draconian legislation that lies ahead that your vote might affect.
2. http://www.junkscience.com - A highly entertaining site exposing fraudulent and expensive scientific extrapolations.
3. http://thomas.loc.gov - Current, past, and pending legislative actions, bills, and sponsors - a huge resource.
4. http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-366es.html - a "White" Paper produced by the CATO Institute covering the Shelby Amendment which requires that all aspects of research whose findings lead to legislation being enacted be made part of the public record available to all. Fascinating reading although research organizations have been painfully slow to comply.
Also, most of the news services (CNN, Fox, ABC, MSNBC, etc.), have extensive archives of smoking related articles both pro and con. They are great resources for both sides of the issue. Their websites are easily found in search engines or by URL (i.e. cnn.com).
Below are some additional links to sites with some
in-depth information on the colorful
1. Jim Shaw's Burnt Offerings
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
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