| I love the desert. Mesas, cactus, tumbleweeds and
unbroken stretches of sky. Simplicity in design surpassed only perhaps by the seemingly
barren expanses of the polar ice caps. But the desert is no barren waste. Life is as
abundant as are the alternatives to living. Whether eeking out an existence in some
isolated roadside filling station or curio store, or sitting atop any one of a thousand newly formed (geologically speaking) hilltops,
committing thoughts to paper, the vistas are copious yet simplicity defined. Centerlines!
Looking like the sea bed of some long evaporated great ocean, the four great deserts in the US (Chihuahuan, Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin) actually are formed by a phenomenon know as "Rain Shadow." Basically, the Rocky Mountains provide a barrier affecting winds coming west over them by heating the air which then can retain more moisture, thus denying the precious substance of life to the ground below. These deserts cover most of the Southwest from southern Idaho, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, west to California extending south to the tip of the Baja Peninsula. But it is not the arid climate of these deserts that attracts me. (Deserts actually receive more rain than one might expect but ages of the rain shadow effect have created soil conditions not conducive to retaining what moisture does fall.) No . . . it is the ability to see in all directions clearly and with few obstructions that stimulates. Much like Mozart's scalar creations that are thought to improve one's intellect by enhancing the patterned alignment of the neuronic pathways of the brain, this uninterrupted panorama brings out the best in my creative processes. Centerlines!
Now, some people like forests, some like mountains, some oceans (I love to surf but I don't think particularly well at the beach - evidenced by my willingness to broil my skin with lethal levels of solar radiation while attacking building-sized waves with a fragile piece of fiberglass covered foam). My creative seed blossoms in the desert. I feel centered when there, as if some inner focus is accentuated denying distraction. I can see problems from occurrence to solution - I can see at a single glance both the destination and the path necessary to arrive there. Perhaps it is, to some degree, the lack of distraction of a large human population impact there and certainly the lack of a large governmental/social engineering presence that allows me the inner peace to resolve and create. There is a freedom to the desert that allows one to simplify all things human. Consider the graphic that heads this issue (see top). I find comfort in seeing at a glance the entire path from start to finish. Centerlines!
Centerlines! - Hmmmmm . . . One could argue the location successful politicians often inhabit after they are elected. Stands taken that are more moderate than these "public servants" espoused during their campaigns depending, of course, on which group of possible constituents they were in front of at the time. Centrist views. The tendency for elected officials, especially in executive positions like Presidents, Governors, and even Mayors to move toward the center during the life of their term. Middle of the road. Boring . . . ? Perhaps, but that is only one of many ways to look at the straight and narrow and a rather cynical one at that. As any humble arrow attempts to fly true to its target, there are many converging distractions that do everything in their power to throw it off line. Gravity, friction, air currents, moisture and the like, but in all of these disruptive elements there is no intent, no intelligence with preconceived plans of interference or manipulation. Such is the natural way of all things physical. The world of humans enjoys no such simplicity. Centerlines!
So much has transpired since September 11 that has the potential to change life in these United States, and for that matter in the rest of the world, that issues regarding tobacco regulation and taxation might seem of minor import. It is therefore important to keep in mind that the things we at RYO Magazine are concerned about go much deeper than mere tobacco issues. We are genuinely concerned about the direction this country is taking with respect to the rights of its citizens and more importantly the rights we citizens are granting, often complacently, or even unknowingly to elected officials that may affect every aspect of our life. Rights that include our own personal wealth/power - not just money - but wealth/power that is symbolized by our freedom to make unique personal choices or seemingly incomprehensible changes in our direction using the evolving tools of a creative society. However, even more ominous is the power being exerted by special interest groups on our elected representatives that, taken to the extreme, puts us all under the thumb of anyone who can mount the relatively small obstacle of the ballot initiative. As with the singular flight of the arrow, human beings have a lot more to deal with than simply the directions they choose to point their destiny. Centerlines!
Taxation - The Myth
Taxation is a nasty business even when it is arguably necessary and arguably fair. It almost never is either. By fair, we mean when a tax is apportioned equally among the citizens of this country who can reasonably expect to benefit from the revenues these taxes generate. By necessary, we mean a tax that is beneficial to the safety and progressive infrastructural gain of the populace, for those things that are simply too expensive to fund privately. Now, I know this all sounds pretty basic but keep in mind that a number of politicians and other government employees read this magazine too, and I want to be sure that I emphasize the basics that many of them seem to have forgotten before proceeding. While taxes legally may be construed as obligation, they are still only viable according to the will of a free citizenry.
The two conditions, parity and necessity, given that they are rarely satisfied, what indeed do we see as fruit from the tax revenue tree? Well . . . in some cases quite a lot - in most cases very little. We do have a pretty good highway system. On closer inspection, however, one might rightly question the efficiency of the methods used to obtain this absolutely critical part of our civil infrastructure. It seems that every time I drive by a highway construction area, I routinely see a couple of guys with shovels and 12 people standing around empty handed with seemingly nothing to do (supervising, I suppose). Now, this may be a bit unfair as I don't spend much time watching these sites and really don't know the function of all of those present. But it does seem to be a consistent pattern of unaccountability at best. Now highways are built, as I am sure most of you know, with public funds paid to the lowest (usually) bidder who must be a qualified highway construction company or subcontractor. Of particular note here is that highway constructions are therefore government contracts. They are more specifically public works projects funded by tax dollars. Having at one time worked as a draftsman for a tool and die company (part time while in college) that serviced government contracts, I will tell you that the amount of paperwork and oversight required to get most defense industry contracts is enormous. Public works projects have many fewer formalities although there is a lot more public oversight as far as environmental impact and citizen input regarding personal impact on their lives. And though everyone recognizes the need for roads, like prisons and waste facilities, no one wants them on or near their property. Yet, we are willing to allow our tax revenues to fund them because we all need them. However, what is missing is our ability to examine or determine how efficiently (both fiscally and temporally) these projects proceed.
In simple truth, though nobody wants to pay taxes, most agree that we need the various things that such revenues are at least advertised to provide. BUT do most agree that surpluses from highway funds be used for unrelated projects? I doubt it. In fact, very often contention arises (or at least should) among those taxed when money from the taxpayer's pocket is extracted for one thing that may seem important to the extractee, but in turn, is used for something altogether different, especially if the project those funds are diverted to have far less relevance to the taxpayer. For instance, back in the late 70's the now famous Jarvis-Gann Initiative (Proposition 13) to lower property taxes in the State of California was based on the simple premise that property owners should not be taxed for things they do not use, and such taxes that are collected are to be spent in pre-agreed areas of funding. We all use roads and certain other parts of our modern infrastructure that are simply too costly to turn over to the private sector (much too unprofitable unless all roads became toll roads). Jarvis-Gann used the education issue to illustrate their point. They made the case that people who have no children should not be required to equally fund public education. Therefore, property taxes should not be used to fund education. If the state wants to fund education, it should pass a specific education tax (or at least attempt to) that addresses proportionally the need versus usage.
Though logically there are benefits to all from a well-educated populace, the real thrust and thus popularity of the legislation (which was approved by nearly 90% of California voters in 1978) was that government should not have the right to spend money from one area of taxation to support shortfalls in other areas. A year later, Gann's Proposition 4 was passed to include most other areas of tax revenue collection to the addition of property taxes. It passed with approval of nearly 80% of the voters.
What Gann and the voters of California wanted addressed was the tendency (more accurately - a self presumptive mandate) of Government to look at surpluses from tax collection in one area as a universal source of income for ANY and ALL state-sponsored projects. These "slush" funds are usually referred to as General funds, but in reality, they are nothing more than repositories of revenue created by excessive taxation in one area that in good faith should be returned to the public when the goals of said area of taxation are met. These monies are transferred much too easily without the donors' (taxpayers') permission or knowledge, often by those who are not even elected (appointees).
Today we see much the same sort of government cash-cow mentality when it comes to the levying and utilization of Tobacco Taxes. For example, here in Oregon where a very high tax on tobacco already exists and consequently a large majority of people who buy cigars and rolling/pipe tobaccos do so by mail order or online, there are efforts afoot to INCREASE the tax further to help pay for the state's nearly one billion dollar budgetary shortfall. A number of organizations, individuals, and members of the legislature express the belief that because the state needs money for education and other programs that are seriously threatened, tobacco users are a logical source of such revenue. It does not matter to these folks that the tax will be of no benefit to tobacco users. This revenue source is being targeted simply because it appears that its members have money to spend and are so addicted to nicotine that they will pay any price to get their "fix."
You see the initial reason for the escalation of tobacco taxes in the last ten years or so has been (wrongly) attributed to the need to generate income to help all the poor souls who have been damaged by tobacco use. The point is that this strategy of taxation urged by those who will not suffer the impact of the tax is not equitable and should be patently illegal. It is one thing for society to agree to raise taxes for things that are beneficial to the whole, but quite another for one group of ideaologs to impose a tax, that they themselves are exempt from, on an unrelated segment of the population. That fact is that non-smokers benefit more from tobacco taxes than smokers, yet suffer no fiscal damages. And this trend is self-perpetuating and ever-expanding in nature. Let's be clear here that when all is said and done, raising taxes on specific products that citizens of a state can obtain (sans tax) from outside the state does not increase the said state's revenue. It has long been observed that fair and reasonably directed taxes are paid while unfair and unreasonable taxes are avoided in every possible way. Revenue departments we have talked to in a number of states agree that raising taxes on certain tobacco items (rolling tobaccos, cigars, and pipe tobaccos) simply drives the business out of state thus generating zero gains at best and, more often, actual losses in overall revenue. The states also know quite well that little of the revenue collected on behalf of tobacco actually reaches the targeted areas that were intended (i.e., helping those damaged by tobacco or prevention of its use by young people). We have been quite impressed with the logic and understanding displayed by members of these departments who, like police officers, are compelled to enforce the law whether they personally agree with the law or not. However, a more proactive position that members of these departments could play by consulting or advising the state's legislature would likely be productive and certainly appreciated by those who suffer from the escalation of these group directed taxes.
Further, states are also becoming increasingly aware of the potential for future litigation to recover those funds obtained unfairly or deceptively. This is no idle threat. We have it on good authority from a number of legal entities that it is quite possible that a new feeding frenzy by scores of attorneys (many of whom were denied their legal fees in the original tobacco suits that resulted in the Master Settlement Agreement) is imminent. These legal minds are more than willing to take on the states, states that refused to pay their admittedly fecund, but nonetheless obligatory, legal fees with new and highly creative litigations against deceptive health risk assessments and contradictory or poorly aimed solutions based on less than scientific extrapolations.
We can think of dozens of possible scenarios in which tobacco retailers who have lost their businesses because of exorbitant taxes, based on less than scientific data regarding tobacco and health, seek to recoup some of their losses. Class action suits against organizations like the American Legacy Foundation whose thetruth.com commercials have wildly distorted facts (which they have admitted publicly) and which have generated new tax legislation seem, to many in the legal community, to be quite winnable. Assumptive logical progression leads to the conclusion that other targets will be governmental agencies, municipal facilities (airports, etc.) as well as private organizations who force cigarette smokers into densely smoke-filled designated smoking areas. Areas that government and other so-called "for the public good" organizations maintain, by their own definitions, contain dangerous levels of contaminants. The staggering number of culpable entities being looked at as potential defendants could make the nearly $400 billion MSA look like chump change. Really all that is needed is a well organized pro-rights organization that is not aligned with, or financed by, the cigarette industry. An effective PAC or non-profit Hell bent on litigation and perhaps initially funded by the 50+ million smokers and related damaged businesses who are palpable victims of some really shaky science-inspired-legislation - let us for grins call it the National Alliance of Tobacco Enthusiasts - could likely mount significant power for comprehensive research and ultimately reparation. And, of course, no such legal argument would be complete until clear distinctions are made between the obsessive-behavior driven manufactured cigarette industry and the more recreational/hobbyist nature of other tobacco enthusiasts.
For the most part, it is the multi-pack-a-day cigarette addict that is experiencing the bulk of the health problems. Yet all health forms ask simply if the applicant is a "smoker" or not. Most research papers put all smokers in one group with no regard to what and how much they smoke. Further since very little of the tobacco tax revenue raised goes to anything vaguely connected with any kind of tobacco usage, taxation is of no benefit to any in either defined group of "smokers". We have commented before on the pathetic nature of the hearings held by Senator John McCain last year in which attorney generals from a number of the states who participated in the Master Settlement Agreement were before Congress to protest their individual state legislatures' refusal to spend this fiscal windfall on the areas that were supposedly designated, i.e., tobacco education, health and research. The various states' legislatures have been raiding this money for everything from roads, government office buildings and other bureaucratic excesses, to corporate rebates. A VERY small percentage wound up on the doorstep of those the Agreement was supposed to help. Further, the states refused to pay the attorneys, who were hired to represent them, the enormous ($billions) legal fees that they contingently worked for. It has turned into a fiasco of the first order and yet few seem to have learned anything from this debacle.
In Oregon this year, the cigar tax was lowered from the 65% of wholesale cost to just $.50 per stick. Retailers have barely had time to enjoy the return of customers who will now buy in-state and thus generate some income for the state before the next group of bottom feeders proposed further tax legislation. And these groups don't even try to hide their agendas. They make it clear that it is up to tobacco users to pay for the shortfall in education and other non-tobacco related programs, shortfalls that resulted in the first place from ill-conceived tax revenue-based fiscal policies. We don't have a huge bureaucracy here in Oregon but we do have significant social plans like health care for those that can't afford it and an extremely robust education system. The point is, the state has killed incentive for businesses at every opportunity, and has likewise nearly killed the agricultural industry with unfair water rationing policies that give priority to businesses, homes and a few minor species of fish over agriculture which has traditionally been one of the mainstays of the Oregon economy. There is no sales tax in Oregon and a very small income tax as well. Commercial trucking pays almost nothing for road use and we have arguably the highest social worker/psychologist/sociologist per population ratio in the country. The point is that an awful lot of money is ill-spent and an awful lot of other revenue sources exist besides tobacco users who already pay a higher tax rate than in all but a couple of states.
Yet some in this state are serious about raising taxes (all kinds not just on tobacco) on an already failing economy to make up its deficits. Initiatives are on the ballot to do just this, so while these are not necessarily plans hatched inside the state's legislature, the voters of Oregon may likely pass these outrages. It is such an inane approach that one has to think that the state is quickly slipping into a veritable third world, noblesse oblige, mentality. The original tobacco tax, passed a few years ago, was 35% which the legislature unilaterally then raised to 65%. The new tax would be increased to 95% and, to make matters even worse, would include a retroactive component that would have businesses with stock on hand pay the additional 30% difference on goods they have in stock on December 31, 2002. This would have far greater impact on cigar inventory - the difference between $.50/stick as compared with 95% of wholesale. In the case of, say a $6.00 wholesale cost cigar, the resulting increase would cost a distributor an extra $5.20 in tax on that one cigar alone. This original $6.50 ($6 + $.50 per stick) wholesale cost to the retailer results, usually after a typical 30% markup, in a cost of $8.50 to the consumer. Under the new tax, the same cigar would sell for about $13.50. You can imagine that few people with functioning brains, and internet or mail order sources, would pay that kind of difference. Thus, less not more total revenue. Now if the citizens of the state can digest this, the tax perhaps won't pass muster at the polls. I am not optimistic, however.
Legislators have already "raided" the tobacco settlement funds so now they must raise new revenues. The pure logic of the argument that raising tobacco taxes only drives the business across state lines escapes too many politicians and special interest groups. And, unfortunately, this scenario is being played out in nearly every state in the U.S. What offends us the most is that our government (at all levels) does not trust its population to concur with their need for certain well defined taxes. Now, again no one likes taxes but few can deny their necessity when well-aimed. The American people are generous and are interested in the welfare of others. In fact, one of the most significant artifacts that will survive from the tragedy of September 11 was the overwhelming force of our generosity. Unfortunately, the mishandling and misappropriation of these massive donations for things other than intended by the donors may likely find longer legs historically than the gifts themselves. The Red Cross was pretty effectively bludgeoned for its cavalier attitude about how these massive donations were to be used and we feel state and federal governmental agencies should be at least as accountable as the Red Cross. Simply put, we would like to see legislation in every state and federal jurisdiction that would make it necessary to specifically define just what programs tax revenues are going to fund. Now of course certain emergencies like terrorist attacks or natural disasters can never be anticipated but, except for those funds reserved for these catastrophic occurrences, we feel it time the taxpayer has a definitive say in how their dollars are spent. And that say should involve some form of popular formal consensus. Federal and State agencies should have to create coherent plans for revenue distribution and collection that follow strict guidelines as far as General or Emergency funds. Most or all other ill-defined programs or revenue repositories should be eliminated. Paper ballots are expensive. Even in this relatively low population state, a state-wide or federal election can cost many tens of millions of dollars in materials alone. There are always options for those that would simply take the time to look for them.
We live in an electronic age where people could have immediate input and redress of grievances as well as approve or disapprove fiscal adventures by their representatives. Terminals could be set up in designated areas for those who have no other access to an internet connection. Everyone would simply have a password. All of this could be accomplished at a VERY low cost and there would be no need of any additional information on individuals than is already collected during voter registration. We subscribe to the proposition that elections and voting need not be limited to single day activity. For instance, ballot measures as described above could be addressed over a period of one week and since the tallies are far quicker when done electronically than counting paper ballots by hand or machine, the results would be at least as timely. Elections for political office are done on a single day, thus quickly, for one basic reason. It is the same reason that official poll results are not released in states until the polls close. Our government assumes that if people know who is winning they will either not go to the polls or will change their intended vote. This gives little credit to the American people. It also institutionalizes the kind of mindless attitude that does affect many voters today by increasing the voter's level of cynicism as to the role their vote actually plays in the larger scheme of things. I firmly believe that while currently a well thought out vote can be cancelled by a moronic one, once voters see they really do have an active and immediate impact on a far wider range of government issues, they will begin to consider carefully the ramifications of their vote and truly engage this most precious process.
We embrace, as do a fast growing number of others, the concept of program-specific taxation where, for instance, a state once a year must submit a detailed highway improvement budget and, if approved by citizens of the state, the tax for that program alone could be collected. The same should apply to education, health, welfare and all other large scale agendas. There are many benefits to an educated population but the school systems in Oregon, though funded per capita at a much higher rate than most other states, is not THAT much better. It seems logical that if a family has four kids they should pay four times the education tax as that paid by a family with just one child. We don't subscribe to tax vouchers for private schools as they are too indirect and require too much management by too many governmental agencies and thus are difficult to keep track of by constituents to insure parity. A simple school tax paid by everyone, but based more on usage, would be much cheaper to collect and provide consistent real time revenues for ever changing student populations. The voters in the US could have such a system and the specifics are not that tough to work out. Besides the idea of rewarding people in an already over crowded planet (with finite resources) to have more children seems less than wise.
And it goes without saying that the 50+ million cigarette smokers (and this number does not include other tobacco users - cigars, pipes, hand rolling, etc), if they were to organize as we outlined above, could elect anyone they wanted to nearly any office at the state and federal level. They could help bring forward candidates who would represent them aggressively in very specific areas. To accomplish this, tobacco enthusiasts must create and fund a powerful non-profit (which can only sue to achieve its goals - not support legislation or candidates) or a for-profit political action organization that has full lobbying powers for legislation or candidates. I suspect the non-profit has the best chance of efficacy as it could qualify for PSAs (Public Service Announcements) and other freebies that would stretch the dollars obtained from donors. Every tobacco user should participate. Ten dollars a head would give it double the fiscal punch of the American Legacy Foundation. Non-profits are not that hard to set up and only require sufficient funding to pay a full time staff and legal force to seriously challenge a lot of the pure BS that government and other greedy entities dispense in order to justify outrageous tobacco legislation. Let us know what you think about "The National Association of Tobacco Enthusiasts" as we are constantly receiving input from folks who think this is not only a good idea, but an absolute necessity. Contact us on this issue at :
There are a number of other issues we have found troubling in the last few months (no surprise there). One of the most unusual is the plight of Chills. As we understand it, and we have to admit that we do not know the full details of the case, it seems that Chills is being prosecuted for making glass pipes. Now, we have not seen these pipes but we do know for a fact that Chills makes rolling papers and rolling tobacco and that is their main business. Sometimes these tobacco items show up in shops that are "alternative" smoke shops, which means they cater to the old (or new) "head" shop clientele. What we understand of the case is that the court is trying to make the argument that any and all smoking pipes not made of briar or corn cob will soon be treated as drug paraphernalia. Rolling papers have long been legally accepted as tobacco papers but of course, they can be used to roll most anything. Our problem with this scenario is that glass makes for a very fine smoking vessel for tobacco. It does not absorb the pipe tobacco residues that briar, wood, and corn cob do and if you clean a properly designed glass pipe every time you smoke your favorite pipe tobacco, you get that wonderfully sweet and clean taste that most pipe smokers experience when they light up their new, high quality briar pipe for the first time. It is the residue that makes briar and corn cob at times smoke bitter and real connoisseurs often send their pipes to master craftsmen for cleaning and bowl sweetening. This can be expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient to say the least. However, if you have a $500 briar pipe, you have little choice. Most regular (cheaper) pipe smokers simply buy a new pipe now and then when their old favorite begins to offend. You can smell a dirty briar pipe. A burnt odor often overpowers even the most aromatic of tobaccos especially as the pipe is laid down and begins to go out on its own. A good glass pipe, kept clean with soap and hot water, has none of these disadvantages and many additional positives as well.
Consequently, we feel that if the court is determined to make certain pipes "illegal", this should be done on the basis of design rather than materials used in its construction. The pipes you see above at left and below right are ones we have been designing for several months and the resulting prototypes you see here smoke as good as any briar we have tried and that includes some VERY expensive briar pipes. We were amazed at the sweetness and continually fresh taste of good pipe tobacco smoked thusly. These design are very simple ones but there is no limit to the amount of decorative styling and color one can create in the glass medium. These pipes are tough, can be dropped on hard surfaces and survive, and they smoke surprisingly cool. We had intended to produce these pipe here in Oregon since many of the finest glass blowers in the world are here. This possible new court (Supreme/District?) ruling we are hearing about seems Draconian at best. We think it should be pretty obvious by design what a pipe's intended use is.
We question the need for "carbs" and water chambers as a compromise but agree with many that these elements can also enhance the pipe tobacco smoking experience. Tobacco has been smoked for centuries in "hookahs" (pipes with hoses for several people with a water chamber to filter the smoke). In fact, we are told that many such hookah bars are opening up across the US and are very popular - for TOBACCO smokers. Having said this, if the court chooses to rule on specific designs, we would be hard pressed to disagree outright, but if it intends to rule based on construction materials, we stringently object.
We completely understand the government's effort to win the war on drugs though we disagree with their priorities. Drugs such as meth, crack cocaine and heroin are killing lots of young people. I'm told that there are specific designs for pipes to effectively use some of these drugs and those designs certainly should be clearly defined and controlled. However, the fact is a lot of people smoke pot in briar pipes and rolling papers. We are interested to see if a significant number of people who are pipe tobacco smokers will try this new line of glass pipes. In future articles, we will keep you updated as to the success, availability, and (yes) the ultimate legality of our new Tisch Hill and Morgan-Tisch Glass Tobacco Pipes. The names by the way though trademarked as is, may change. We have also applied for a provisional patent on the interior section of the pipe that restricts air flow and thus accurately duplicates the flow of air in a traditional briar pipe. This particular design is very difficult for the run-of-the-mill glass blower to accomplish. Frankly, I would not be surprised if a lot of investors show up to be a part of this new line. And let's hope the courts show some insight and thus gain a bit more credibility with young people who are the primary targets of the hard drug dealers. Young adults understand logic as well as anyone and straight talk and intelligent laws will attract their interest and support far more than contrived scatter-gun solutions and scare tactics. For example, consider the logic of the statement that "marijuana is a gateway drug". Consider the FACT that this may be so solely because it must be obtained illegally from those willing to break the law. For further information on the new Tisch Hill/Morgan-Tisch Glass Tobacco Pipes contact us at the link below:
The issue of glass is only one of many symbols of wasteful witch hunts that seem to preoccupy the puritanical whims of federal agencies, courts, and greedy "do-gooder" organizations. We feel that the import and manufacturer of dangerous drugs like heroin, meth and others are serious acts of terrorism against our youth requiring realistic and potent battle lines be drawn and enforced. However, too often, these groups seem to focus on more innocuous substances like marijuana while drugs like alcohol (beer especially) are publicly promoted as readily as fast food style statements. Tobacco (not cigarettes which we agree are designed to create obsession) certainly is not the biggest fish in the frying pan of threat. A little logic will go a lot further than questionnaire-based research that ends up costing a segment of the population billions of dollars. Simply, current approaches lack the elegance of logic. Centerlines!
Finally to draw all of this into some semblance of continuity, our metaphor Centerlines! stands for the resurgence of clearly defined, directional thinking. Recognizing that people have different likes and dislikes should make legislators, public policy makers, and other manipulators take pause before they try to decide what is best for the "individual" American citizen and especially before they arbitrarily decide who pays for the dance. Looking at problems straight on without the distraction of coloration by prejudicial, unproven, narrow-minded dogma, makes for elegant and lasting solutions. - Centerlines!
For an interesting look at the Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) issue, we once again recommend that you read Junk Science's (http://www.junkscience.com ) Steven Milloy regarding his adventure into the statistical world of EPA studies by clicking here. Our thanks to Fox News for keeping the article available for a while, at least. Also of interest is Steven's elevated ride on the back of the CDC's Public Health Turkeys. Steven Milloy's book "Junk Science Judo" is an enlightening look at the business of Health Scare for Profit. It is available by clicking the book graphic at right. A great read! He also explore the exploitation of the brand new demon that is the food industry. Click here to read an interesting review of a new anti-food industry book that uses wild statistical extrapolations disturbingly reminiscent of much of the anti-tobacco dogma of recent years..
Don Oakley's book, "Slow Burn" is a must read for those who would like a very clear, alternative look at the other side of Tobacco and Health studies conducted over the last few decades and specifically, takes a look at who has gained financially from the results. We have no "fixed" position on smoking and health. We assume that smoking has risk to some unknown degree but have seen far too little responsible data to irrationally fear the moderate use of high quality tobacco.
At times like this, reading can be very therapeutic, and materials, that provide insight as to how issues, that affect us all are manipulated to a certain point of view, are downright fascinating. For instance, a book by a highly respected science fiction author contains a number of interesting essays on subjects as varying as the Ozone Layer to HIV - AIDS. The author, James P. Hogan, is a master storyteller as well as a respected physicist. He is also an avid researcher in the field of exposure of fact-free science. His book (one of many) "Rockets, Redheads, and Revolution" is a combination of fact and fiction that makes for a truly entertaining read. Especially check out the section entitled "AIDS Heresy and the New Bishops". It will provide a sumptuous banquet of foods for thought for those of you who are still convinced that the "Truth Is Out There". It is incumbent for every human being to question the findings of those who have something to gain from their point of view, especially when that gain is pecuniary.
Check out the website http://www.junkscience.com and subscribe to their newsletter. You will be amazed at how much is taken for granted as fact in the world of so called "research." Also visit the CATO Institute's website for an "E" Ride into reality.
With the holidays having oozed away be sure to visit our Buyer's Guide by clicking on the graphic link at left. You will find many new things to enjoy at some great after-holiday savings. In this special section, you will find all of the bargains and interesting items we come across, or that our readers tell us about. The section will be continually updated as new information arrives and, as there are literally hundreds of unusual, practical and hard to find items in the world of RYO, it is our intent to bring them to your attention with links to make your explorations easier. The Buyer's Guide remains a big hit with our readers and to make it increasingly effective, we need your continued input. So retailers, manufacturers, distributors and readers take notice. If you find any interesting items or bargains that you feel worthy of sharing with your fellow readers (and us, of course), please e-mail RYO Magazine with your suggestions. Everyone concerned will appreciate the benefit derived from the vast resources our readership can provide.
We would especially like to thank all of our advertisers who sell and manufacture a diverse array of high quality accessories and tobacco products, as well as the huge influx of e-mail concerning all aspects of the subject of RYO smoking. This magazine has received little opposition from the anti-smoking forces mainly due to the fact that we, as often stated, are not proponents of smoking but proponents of the public's right to smoke. We recognize the problems that tobacco ABUSE (like any other kind of abuse) can cause, and stress continually our belief that tobaccos in the purer forms found in RYO products contain far fewer, if any, of the additives that increase health assessment risks. We further stress the quantitatively sensible usage of tobacco as an occasional diversion that we, as smokers, can actively manage. There is no physiological reason that the enjoyment of quality tobacco need become an uncontrollable habit. For those who enjoy it, tobacco is a pleasurable substance that has a number of benefits to awareness and mood that, when used intelligently, can provide positives unavailable from other substances. But, if you are a four pack a day smoker (or even two), the sheer irritation to your lungs and cardio-vascular system is likely to cause you grief, much like the reaction your system would have if directly inhaling the equivalent amount of smoke from a campfire or other conflagration. Smoking is not a health-oriented practice, at least physiologically. But many forms of entertainment, which seem crucial for our day to day enjoyment of life, pose risk. Moderation is the key in all such endeavors, including tobacco use. If you are going to smoke tobacco, it seems only logical to enjoy the highest quality, most additive-free products available. We strive to make available information on just such products but remember, if you feel you should quit, then do it. In most cases, it can be done quite easily with a little creative replacement therapy without filling the huge coffers of the pharmaceutical driven nicotine supplement industry.
Well, there are lots of new products to look at, so we hope you enjoy your visit here this time and wish all of you an increasingly prosperous and enjoyable 2002. Just remember that all of you have a great deal of control over your future.
Check out the links below and keep abreast what is happening in the tobacco wars. It directly effects you and your right to smoke and other endangered freedoms more and more every day. - the ed.
1. http://www.smokersalliance.org - The National Smokers Alliance
2. http://www.forces.org - FORCES - A national smoker's rights organization
3. http://www.smokers.org - The American Smoker's Alliance
4. http://www.fujipub.com/fot - Friends of Tobacco - A Tobacco and Smoking information clearing house
5. http://www.junkscience.com - A highly entertaining site exposing fraudulent and expensive scientific extrapolations.
6. http://thomas.loc.gov - Current, past, and pending legislative actions, bills, and sponsors - a huge resource.
7. http://tobaccolovers.com - A new and growing resource for tobacco related, history, techniques, and links.
8. http://www.smokerscorner.al.ru - A new Eastern European site with a variety of informational sections & services
9. 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.
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).
Without a doubt, even though we are being redundant, we strongly suggest you read what should be the handbook for the smoker's rights enthusiast, Don Oakley's "Slow Burn" - an incredibly well researched, powerful history of the facts and fallacies (mostly) of the anti-smoking movement from its organized inception in the early 60's to present - is available at Amazon.com (click the book graphic at right to purchase it immediately online from Amazon.com (highly recommended). This book is filled with detailed accounts of the step-by-step conspiracy that has created the anti-tobacco environment we all suffer today as well as many portents of the dangers of attorney driven campaigns to change the ways our basic rights are defined. It's all about money and it will make you angry . . . AND. . . you will be amazed at how much wool has been pulled over the eyes of the American sheep population.
Below are some
additional links to sites with some in-depth information on the colorful
1. Jim Shaw's Burnt
|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 prescribe 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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