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RYO Magazine Endangered Species
"Those who trample on the rights of others soon become fit subjects
for the first cunning tyrant who rises among them" -  A. Lincoln

May/June 2000 Roll Your Own Magazine
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   Welcome to the May/June 2000 issue of RYO Magazine. Well, that just about does it. It was bad enough when Steven Spielberg and Peter Benchley scared me right out of the water - ME! . . .  who not only was a surfer kid raised around Newport Beach, California, but even more ironically, a student of marine biology at several California institutions; who scuba dived frequently and never had any fear of sharks. Then along came "Jaws" and I have been somewhat nervous in the water since. I still love the ocean, still body surf when I can - so while I am better now, I still remember, not too long after seeing "Jaws" for the first time, sitting on my board just beyond the breakers at a favorite spot near the Huntington Beach Cliffs. As I waited nervously for a decent wave, suddenly a large dorsal fin broke the surface next to me. An emotionally painful moment to remember as I screamed SHARK! and frantically sped off toward shore leaving an unsolicited albeit small amount of extra warm salt water behind me on the already polluted surface of the Pacific Ocean. A situation made even more intolerable as I realized, looking back over my shoulder, that what had surfaced, what had totally freaked me out was, in fact, a playful dolphin, an animal that I had knowingly shared those waters with many times. I suppose, in retrospect, that the worst part of the experience was the heckling I took from those that had witnessed this little melodrama from the beach, some of whom used to be friends and some of whom were convinced that I was a total dork! And those who displayed an initial empathy with my plight and had flung themselves headlong out of the water onto the sandy beach ahead of me screaming SHARK!, no doubt they simply Shark!!hated me!  It was a very long walk up the cliffs to PCH and to my van that day.

   Now I was aware of sharks all along (and dolphins). The inherent dangers of the ocean are legion and anyone around the sea for any length of time well respects the capabilities of its predators, but I had never even considered the possibility of a shark with an agenda, one who was prepared to eat me with an intelligent premeditated vengeance. You can usually avoid problems with sharks by avoiding their territory or their main food supply's (seals) territory. Well, you may ask what has all of this to do with RYO, smoking, or anything else usually found here? Well, I'll tell you. The anti-tobacco forces are no longer content that we don't smoke on their turf. They are coming after us with a vengeance regardless of location, whether we respect and avoid them or not.

   To make matters even worse, last week as I settled down, wrapped in a nice comfortable chair, to watch the X-Files, I saw, to my horror, smoker's and non-smokers alike being infected with tobacco beetle larvae which gestated in their lungs and, in grossly defined moments, exploded from within each victim's body like something out of the film "Alien." Yuck and whoa! It briefly occurred to me that smoking could be pretty spitty behavior and quitting smoking suddenly seemed like an idea worth reconsidering. Well the fact is, that feeling didn't last past the first commercial when I had a truly rare, uncontrollable urge to smoke a cigarette. (You ever notice how people talking about cigarette smoking from either a negative or positive point of view makes some of us want to immediately smoke something?)  Sounds like someone pretty impressionable is at the keyboard just now doesn't it? Well there are a lot of impressionable people out there, ones who have quite possibly created for themselves a totally distorted view of the world and its true dangers. Lung cancer is serious business as are the plethora of other ills attributed to smoking. The only thing more serious and potentially more dangerous is the tendency that governmental grant funded scientific research has to overlook the plenitude of other factors that may be causing or contributing to many or all of these health problems. It will do no one a service if tobacco usage is stemmed, at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, only to find out later that diet, air pollution, and a host of other controllable environmental factors were the true culprits. No one that is except for the lawyers who continue to reap obscene amounts of money in legal fees. Consider the following from the CATO Institute:

March 6, 1999

The Great Tobacco Robbery: Lawyers Grab Billions

by Robert A. Levy

Robert Levy is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.
How'd you like to work for $7,716 an hour? That's a long way from the minimum wage. But it's less than what each lawyer who negotiated the recent Florida tobacco settlement is scheduled to receive after a panel of arbitrators got through with the case. Private attorneys in Texas, Mississippi and Florida made out like bandits, fleecing tobacco companies, smokers and taxpayers for $8.2 billion in legal fees -- billions more than the lawyers themselves had demanded! "Incomprehensible!" said former federal judge Richard Renfrew, the dissenting voice on the panel of three arbitrators. "These excessive fees will undermine public confidence ... in our profession and in our civil justice system," he added. Even lawyer John Coale, a heavyweight litigator who has been a major thorn in the side of the tobacco industry, complained that the "figures are beyond human comprehension. The work does not justify them."


    Well that ought to kindle your interest for further exploration and please keep in mind that most federal legislators are attorneys. Anyway, I didn't really quit smoking. I still enjoy it in small, manageable amounts. (I remain on my 10 smokes a day routine - well eleven that day). The "X-Files" episode did, however, give me a chuckle and some additional insight into how frightened some people probably are of tobacco smoke. Fox Mulder was infected by the larvae and he wasn't smoking - at least not until the program's end when it was extrapolated that the nicotine ingested while smoking was toxic to the larvae. Thus smoking served as protection (if you smoked enough strong cigarettes). What the . .  On further reflection, I realized, that, as a matter of fact, no one in the storyline that smoked (except for some anonymous early research subjects) developed the larval infestation. Only non-smokers, those the villain breathed tobacco smoke at, were infected. I suppose an ETS warning message was imminent. Hardly less subtle than the antagonists in the film "Waterworld" being called "smokers." Yeah, well - enough food for thought (my appetite has now returned). If we are ever to know the true ramifications of smoking, the hysteria and exaggerations must be replaced by good science aggressively defined as the accurate reporting of reasonable interpretations of scientifically sound investigations.

   You will find in this issue the reviews you have come to expect on many RYO products and some really tasty tobaccos, as well as timely commentary on the current state of smoking regulations, litigation and other general legal mischief and paranoia. And certainly the X-Files story does bring to mind some of the truly wacky tobacco research data interpretations our own looking around uncovers. These we will continue to share as is appropriate.

   As always we point you to some links (below) that are vital to your own explorations regarding your rights as smokers and your rights as citizens. These links are only one ingredient to the larger issue, namely, that scientific research done on your behalf and at your expense be accurately interpreted and reported. Your control of any situation depends directly on your familiarity with the terrain. These will help you keep watch for the ever circling sharks! So before proceeding, visit each of the links below (each will open up a new window) and bookmark the sites you enter. There are a couple of new ones so, after you bookmark each site, close the new windows and this page should remain. You might bookmark RYO Magazine, as well, just in case you get lost.

   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.

Click here to buy Slowburn at Amazon.Com Without a doubt, 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 (click the book graphic at right to purchase it immediately online from (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
and fascinating history, complete with photos, of the American Tobacco Industry.


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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