to the debut issue of Roll Your Own Magazine. This magazine is, in part, a tribute to the
growing number of fine purveyors of high-quality roll your own cigarette tobacco, those
who grow it and those who smoke it. It is also a forum for the recognition of the growing
number of increasingly reliable and well made accessories for rolling cigarettes, even
filtered ones that look and function every bit as well as name brand packaged ones, (and
taste immeasurably better).
In these pages you will find information on an ever-increasing number of tobaccos and peripherals. With all due humility, we have tried just about every tobacco and gadget for rolling it that is currently out there. But the number of these keeps growing. So if you have a new roller, injector, paper, or tobacco you would like us to take a look at, go to our contact page and do just that. Contact us. We will be glad to review your items as well as discuss advertising your tobacco related businesses or accessories in these pages.
Some RYO Background
For the uninitiated, or for those of you who are just returning to the roll your own (hence referred to in these pages as RYO) concept, some background and updating may be helpful. (For a much more detailed history of smoking in this country we recommend the three links at the at the bottom of column three of this page.)
RYO cigarettes are certainly not a new concept. People have been rolling their own tobacco for many centuries. In the early 1900s the first mass manufactured "standard brand" cigarettes appeared in this country, although there had been many regional or foreign attempts at popularizing manufactured (by hand rollers - immigrant workers mostly) cigarettes much earlier. Smoking not only became more popular but individual usage increased, in part due to convenience and in part due to the fact that smoking came indoors. As to the latter, the Roaring 20's saw a surge in the number of women smokers (who were actually the first group of Americans to favor manufactured European, African, and Turkish cigarettes in the post-civil war era - men preferred rolling, chewing or cigars) which further encouraged smoking inside the home as men felt less obligated to "go outside for a smoke."
What Next-Filtered Cigarettes?
Filtered cigarettes did not appear until the 50's. Though initially
looked down upon as being for those with weaker constitutions, (In today's vernacular -
Wusses!), they were very soon an overwhelming success. In only a few years, while some
continued to prefer RYO cigarettes, and many still smoked packaged unfiltered brands, most
people who smoked, smoked filtered brand-name manufactured cigarettes. Filters really are the key to the mass appeal in the
new wave of RYO smoking. Few would disagree that unfiltered tobacco smoke tends to be
harsh. It was 1970 and the world
of RYO cigarettes was about to get a real look at the future . . .
In the early 70's, a innovative tobacco company, Brown & Williamson, introduced a new product. Laredo Cigarettes, sold in the form of a cigarette making kit, became the new smoking phenom and a mainstream resurgence of RYO cigarettes was nearly launched. Laredo, for the first time, offered the smoker an injection machine that used filtered cigarette tubes (the tobacco is pushed into a pre-manufactured tube with an attached filter) to create a passable lower cost alternative to pre-packaged filtered brands.
Unfortunately, the tobacco supplied in the kit was uni-dimensional if not utterly mediocre in flavor, and the injection machines were not of a quality sufficient to provide quick, easy, and consistent cigarette manufacture. More importantly, however, the price of brand name cigarettes was, at the time, not all that high. (The fact that a large segment of the smoking public, America's young adults, were becoming increasingly adept at rolling almost anything they could get their hands on, sometimes even tobacco, in a cigarette paper probably didn't help the first injectors either). Consequently, Laredo's initial success was relatively short lived as their product soon slid into a novelty niche market and, subsequently, disappeared. *(This is somewhat speculative as I have been unable to find any information on Laredo cigarettes - anywhere! If you know of any recent history or pertinent facts regarding their demise, please let me know. I bought the kits and even the tobacco in tins so I know/think it was no hallucination. At any rate, they were true pioneers and it would be a shame if their place in history remained as only a few lines, in passing, in this column.)
Lawyers, Guns (ATF?) & Money
The 90's brought lawyers and taxes and the stagnant, if not downright
struggling, RYO market was literally forced into a favorable climate for a comeback.
Tobacco taxes have continued to rise since and there is really no end in sight. As the
large tobacco companies (remember, tobacco companies now mean cigarette manufacturing
companies, at least for the most part) get hit with more and more litigation, cigarette
prices will rise, perhaps even faster than direct taxation would imply and to the smoker
this obviously means higher and higher cigarette prices. The price of tobacco itself, when
viewed solely as a crop on the other hand, remains fairly consistent and it is unlikely
that we will soon see a huge increase in actual tobacco cost. The planters know that it is
not all that difficult to grow and cure tobacco and the day will arrive when a large
number of people grow and cure their own tobacco.
|Grow Your Own - Roll Your Own
There are currently no restrictions to growing tobacco for personal use although, if sold, it is subject to taxation. Even so, high quality, great tasting tobacco remains affordable so growing it yourself has not yet become a necessity. But the time may come!
The price of packaged cigarettes, currently approaching the $4.00 per pack range in most parts of the country, is already bordering on the prohibitive. The time is right for the RYO market and there are lots of tobacco shops out there who are seeing increased revenues from bulk, roll your own tobacco and the various machines and accessories that can turn it into a quality cigarette.
This is where we come in. We are here to spread the word; to make it clear that hand rolling up harsh tobacco in a zig-zag (a euphemism - all intellectual and licensing rights apply) to save a little money is no longer your only option.
The Bottom line
All of us that smoke should smoke less. 10 cigarettes a day maximum; an arbitrary figure to be sure, but doable. And we should enjoy every puff and not let half of our money burn up in the ashtray. We should be able to choose the kind of tobacco taste we want at any particular time. We should smoke outdoors where it tastes better and keeps our personal environment as smoke free as possible, not because we might get cancer, but because it smells nicer without the odor of stale tobacco smoke. We should be able to roll and smoke cigarettes with filters that are every bit as mild and civilized as the fancy brands. We should be able to add subtle flavorings such as vanilla or raspberry to our tobacco so that we and others who do not smoke can better enjoy the fragrance. And Guess What? . . . you can do all of these things right now! Yes, you can! Right Now.
This magazine is not a pro smoking forum. It is, rather, a resource for people who can reasonably manage (or want to) their smoking until it is no longer a habit but an occasional free choice. A choice that provides variety and a great deal more enjoyment when exercised in moderation, and perhaps even with a bit more civility and ceremony. Tobacco has never been the problem. Our excessive behavior is! And to be sure there is a growing movement in this country to limit your right to smoke. So stay tuned!
We hope you find the contents of this magazine enlightening and we wish all of you a healthier, more enjoyable life experience.
Remember to respect others who may not share your enjoyment of tobacco. You need no one else's participation to enjoy a good smoke and you certainly don't need an audience. Hope we see you every issue. - RYO
Below are links to sites with some in-depth information on the colorful and fascinating history, complete with photos, of the American Tobacco Industry.
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.|
© 1999 RYO Magazine
A Publication of
The Andromedan Design Company
is a trademark of The Andromedan Design Company,
and its contents are protected under all applicable copyright laws.