RYO Magazine Weekly updates, Tobacco a Product of Choice not Obsession from the World of Tobacco




January 2012

   Musings and Editorials


January 2012



545 vs. 300,000,000 People - By Charlie Reese - Orlando Sentinel
*Editors note: A consistentcy of these ideas from all factions is continuing to grow!

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does. You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress
delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is the leader
of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the
President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present
facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly
to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal
government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ...

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!



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Monday 9/19/11



While this Bill (below) is still in committee and is likely not to ever get out of committee in its current form, it does nonetheless reflect both the ignorance of our politicians and the influence Big Cigarette companies and Big Pharma (and many other special interest groups) have on our representatives.  It so happens that this ridiculous attack on real tobacco occurred during (actually preceeding ) the massive food fight over the "Debt Ceiling" increase. Democrats (the party of which all the sponsors of this Bill belong) hadn't got the message yet that Congress as a whole would not be passing any new revenue generators, especially ones as whacky and deceptive as this one. The original S-CHIP tax hike which Obama signed (his second day in office) to fund that program, has shown to be (as was clearly obvious) not capable of doing so. In fact more recent estimates of the cost of S-CHIP have exploded from the original $35 Billion to over $78 Billion. And some in Congress have already began to talk about combining the S-CHIP obligations with Medicare itself to enhance funding.

Please read it (the Bill below) so that you may remain informed as to what your so called Reps (including Senators - this Bill was a proposed Senate Bill) are up to. Pay attention to the names of the sponsors at the head of the Bill. After reading it, if you could vote for any of the drudges that represent your area, then you get what you deserve in the future. Further it (the added language) was put at the bottom of a Bill that included and was misleadingly entitled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to obscure from the unwary (or too stupid/lazy to read) the fact that it was little more than a tobacco tax increase. This kind of warm and fuzzy entitled "non-clean" Bill is precisely what some few folks in Congress are challenging, though not nearly enough and certainly not with enough zeal! And remember S-CHIP itself was yet another euphemism (warm and fuzzy) for a tobacco tax increase. So while it will unlikely ever reach a vote, we as voters CAN send a message to Washington that elected officials that profer such garbage with such special interest agendae are no longer welcome and will no longer have our support.  There are far more than 50 million adults in this country who this bill would adversely affect and countless jobs that would be lost. These numbers alone could elect the next President and certainly strongly affect all other election levels as well.

Further the TTB (the taxation arm of the BATFE) who sets tobacco taxes is also in the process of defining Pipe versus Rolling Tobacco - again. They were supposed to have already done this as public comment was closed well over a year ago. Recently the TTB sent out yet another request for public comment that expires in October of 2011 which basically means that they are ostensibly starting over from scratch. This being the case, the Bill below would be duplicitous at best. We will soon follow this up with the text of the new "Request for Comment" sent out by TTB. ATF and TTB likely don't want anything to do with this crap as they have far more important things they should be working on. However, as long as we keep electing people who continue to staff the various regulatory agencies with people who display both gross inefficiency or downright negligence, the outcome will never be good. More soon - the ED.

READ THE BILL BELOW: And note that less the 25% of this Bill actually deals with its entitled subject. All the rest is about tobacco - with large cigars getting their usual pass.

S 1403 IS
1st Session
S. 1403
To amend part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full Federal funding of such part.
July 21, 2011
Mr. HARKIN (for himself, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. WHITEHOUSE, Mr. LEAHY, Mr. BENNET, Mr. FRANKEN, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. REED, Mrs. SHAHEEN, Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota, and Mr. BEGICH) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

To amend part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to provide full Federal funding of such part.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the ‘IDEA Full Funding Act’.

Section 611(i) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1411(i)) is amended to read as follows:
‘(i) Funding- For the purpose of carrying out this part, other than section 619, there are authorized to be appropriated--

‘(1) $12,664,883,000 for fiscal year 2012, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $1,182,683,000 for fiscal year 2012, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2012, and shall remain available through September 30, 2013;
‘(2) $13,988,168,000 for fiscal year 2013, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $2,505,968,000 for fiscal year 2013, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2013, and shall remain available through September 30, 2014;
‘(3) $15,468,770,000 for fiscal year 2014, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $3,986,570,000 for fiscal year 2014, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2014, and shall remain available through September 30, 2015;
‘(4) $17,125,392,000 for fiscal year 2015, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $5,643,192,000 for fiscal year 2015, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2015, and shall remain available through September 30, 2016;
‘(5) $18,978,960,000 for fiscal year 2016, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $7,496,760,000 for fiscal year 2016, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2016, and shall remain available through September 30, 2017;
‘(6) $21,052,886,000 for fiscal year 2017, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $9,570,686,000 for fiscal year 2017, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2017, and shall remain available through September 30, 2018;
‘(7) $23,373,370,000 for fiscal year 2018, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $11,891,170,000 for fiscal year 2018, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2018, and shall remain available through September 30, 2019;
‘(8) $25,969,721,000 for fiscal year 2019, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $14,487,521,000 for fiscal year 2019, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2019, and shall remain available through September 30, 2020;
‘(9) $28,874,737,000 for fiscal year 2020, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $17,392,537,000 for fiscal year 2020, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2020, and shall remain available through September 30, 2021; and
‘(10) $35,308,178,000 for fiscal year 2021, and there are hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, $23,825,978,000 for fiscal year 2021, which shall become available for obligation on July 1, 2021, and shall remain available through September 30, 2022.’.

(a) Short Title- This section may be cited as the ‘Saving Lives by Lowering Tobacco Use Act’.
(b) Increase in Excise Tax on Small Cigars and Cigarettes-

(1) SMALL CIGARS- Section 5701(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$50.33’ and inserting ‘$100.50’.
(2) CIGARETTES- Section 5701(b) of such Code is amended--

(A) by striking ‘$50.33’ in paragraph (1) and inserting ‘$100.50’, and
(B) by striking ‘$105.69’ in paragraph (2) and inserting ‘$211.04’.
(c) Tax Parity for Pipe Tobacco and Roll-Your-Own Tobacco-

(1) PIPE TOBACCO- Section 5701(f) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by striking ‘$2.8311 cents’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.
(2) ROLL-YOUR-OWN TOBACCO- Section 5701(g) of such Code is amended by striking ‘$24.78’ and inserting ‘$49.55’.
(d) Clarification of Definition of Small Cigars- Paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 5701(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 are each amended by striking ‘three pounds per thousand’ and inserting ‘four and one-half pounds per thousand’.
(e) Clarification of Definition of Cigarette- Paragraph (2) of section 5702(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before the final period the following: ‘, which includes any roll for smoking containing tobacco that weighs no more than four and a half pounds per thousand, unless it is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf and does not have a cellulose acetate or other cigarette-style filter’.
(f) Tax Parity for Smokeless Tobacco-

(1) IN GENERAL- Section 5701(e) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended--

(A) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘$1.51’ and inserting ‘$26.79’;
(B) in paragraph (2), by striking ‘50.33 cents’ and inserting ‘$10.72’; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
‘(3) SMOKELESS TOBACCO SOLD IN DISCRETE SINGLE-USE UNITS- On discrete single-use units, $100.50 per each 1,000 single-use units.’.
(2) DISCRETE SINGLE-USE UNIT- Section 5702(m) of such Code is amended--

(A) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘or chewing tobacco’ and inserting ‘chewing tobacco, discrete single-use unit’;
(B) in paragraphs (2) and (3), by inserting ‘that is not a discrete single-use unit’ before the period in each such paragraph; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
‘(4) DISCRETE SINGLE-USE UNIT- The term ‘discrete single-use unit’ means any product containing tobacco that--

‘(A) is intended or expected to be consumed without being combusted; and
‘(B) is in the form of a lozenge, tablet, pill, pouch, dissolvable strip, or other discrete single-use or single-dose unit.’.
(3) OTHER TOBACCO PRODUCTS- Section 5701 of such Code is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘(i) Other Tobacco Products- Any product not otherwise described under this section that has been determined to be a tobacco product by the Food and Drug Administration through its authorities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act shall be taxed at a level of tax equivalent to the tax rate for cigarettes on an estimated per use basis as determined by the Secretary.’.
(g) Clarifying Other Tobacco Tax Definitions-

(1) TOBACCO PRODUCT DEFINITION- Section 5702(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by inserting before the period the following: ‘, and any other product containing tobacco that is intended or expected to be consumed’.
(2) CIGARETTE PAPER DEFINITION- Section 5702(e) of such Code is amended by striking ‘except tobacco,’ and inserting ‘or cigar (other than roll-your-own tobacco)’.
(3) CIGARETTE TUBE DEFINITION- Section 5702(f) of such Code is amended by inserting before the period ‘or cigars’.
(4) IMPORTER DEFINITION- Section 5702(k) of such Code is amended by inserting ‘or any other tobacco product’ after ‘cigars or cigarettes’.
(h) Inflation Adjustment- Section 5701 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by subsection (f)(3), is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘(j) Inflation Adjustment- In the case of any calendar year after 2013, each amount set forth in this section shall be increased by an amount equal to--

‘(1) such amount, multiplied by
‘(2) the cost-of-living adjustment determined under section 1(f)(3) for such calendar year by substituting ‘calendar year 2012’ for ‘calendar year 1992’ in subparagraph (B) thereof.’.
(i) Floor Stocks Taxes-

(1) IMPOSITION OF TAX- On tobacco products manufactured in or imported into the United States which are removed before any tax increase date and held on such date for sale by any person, there is hereby imposed a tax in an amount equal to the excess of--

(A) the tax which would be imposed under section 5701 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 on the article if the article had been removed on such date, over
(B) the prior tax (if any) imposed under section 5701 of such Code on such article.
(2) CREDIT AGAINST TAX- Each person shall be allowed as a credit against the taxes imposed by paragraph (1) an amount equal to $500. Such credit shall not exceed the amount of taxes imposed by paragraph (1) on such date for which such person is liable.

(A) LIABILITY FOR TAX- A person holding tobacco products on any tax increase date to which any tax imposed by paragraph (1) applies shall be liable for such tax.
(B) METHOD OF PAYMENT- The tax imposed by paragraph (1) shall be paid in such manner as the Secretary shall prescribe by regulations.
(C) TIME FOR PAYMENT- The tax imposed by paragraph (1) shall be paid on or before the date that is 120 days after the effective date of the tax rate increase.
(4) ARTICLES IN FOREIGN TRADE ZONES- Notwithstanding the Act of June 18, 1934 (commonly known as the Foreign Trade Zone Act, 48 Stat. 998, 19 U.S.C. 81a et seq.), or any other provision of law, any article which is located in a foreign trade zone on any tax increase date shall be subject to the tax imposed by paragraph (1) if--

(A) internal revenue taxes have been determined, or customs duties liquidated, with respect to such article before such date pursuant to a request made under the 1st proviso of section 3(a) of such Act, or
(B) such article is held on such date under the supervision of an officer of the United States Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to the 2d proviso of such section 3(a).
(5) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this subsection--

(A) IN GENERAL- Any term used in this subsection which is also used in section 5702 of such Code shall have the same meaning as such term has in such section.
(B) TAX INCREASE DATE- The term ‘tax increase date’ means the effective date of any increase in any tobacco product excise tax rate pursuant to the amendments made by this section (other than subsection (g) thereof).
(C) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary’s delegate.
(6) CONTROLLED GROUPS- Rules similar to the rules of section 5061(e)(3) of such Code shall apply for purposes of this subsection.
(7) OTHER LAWS APPLICABLE- All provisions of law, including penalties, applicable with respect to the taxes imposed by section 5701 of such Code shall, insofar as applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this subsection, apply to the floor stocks taxes imposed by paragraph (1), to the same extent as if such taxes were imposed by such section 5701. The Secretary may treat any person who bore the ultimate burden of the tax imposed by paragraph (1) as the person to whom a credit or refund under such provisions may be allowed or made.
(j) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to articles removed (as defined in section 5702(j) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) after December 31, 2011.

Finally we received many comments on the April update below. Almost all were in agreement. We should state however that there are MANY fine companies and people participating and working in this industry. It should also be obvious to all humans that when it comes to things they deeply care about and the products involved, we as consumers want to see both passion and knowledge displayed by those who both make and sell these products. Pretty simple. More soon and as always we appreciate your feedback on these and all other issues - except guitars and religion. - the ed



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Monday 5/16/11



The Controversy Over Public Use Cigarette Making Machine in Retail Environments!

We get way too many calls and emails regarding the fairly recent practice of retail shops employing the use of larger more automated rolling machine/injectors for use by their customers on premise. Both retailers and consumers contact us about this situation. Rather than go into a long narrative about the who's, what's and why's, we've decided to provide links to those interested as to the status of this controversy. A few observations will serve as a preamble to what you will find at the links below. First we are not fans of the process of going to a retailer, buying their tobacco (usually we're told this requires very specific tobaccos made by the manufacturer of the machine which eliminates the customer's option as to which of the wide variety of tobaccos they want to smoke). Secondly we find and have always found it to be far more satisfying and brain dead simple to make one's own sticks at home. It does not take more than few minutes to make a pack at home and you can use any tobacco brand or style you choose.

We also feel that making one's own personally leads to both increased appreciation of fine tobaccos and ultimately to increasing moderation, both concepts that we consistently throughout the life of this magazine have highlighted. To us tobacco use is and should be at least a freely chosen pastime and not a habit. or addiction. Most of our readers agree. while we have never been advocates of smoking, for those that do smoke, smoking finer quality purer tobaccos aid in this result. From personal experience, communication from a lot of readers and friends we see face to face, we've found this to be accurate. We've also been told by many retailers who've either called us for information on the legal status of these so called (by the TTB) "commercial cigarette making machines" and by readers who've been in shops and had conversations with those that use the machines rather than make their own privately, that the bulk of those who do use the machines are packaged cigarette smokers, and not RYO enthusiasts. I know of no one who has made their own for any length of time who would prefer the limitations and inconvenience of having to go to a retail operation to have their smokes made for them. Packaged cigarette smokers do however find the lower cost fits better with their higher consumption based budgets.

As to the legalities of this machine, we have no opinion, though we are asked nearly daily by media members and many others. We do think it is a bit of stretch for the Federal Government (both the IRS and the TTB -Trade and Tax Bureau) to consider these retailers in the same class as Big Cigarette companies. We just don't feel the practice is good for fine tobaccos and people's intelligently moderate usage of it. As stated in the article below of April 11, we been told overwhelmingly that while RYO enthusiasts would rather pay the higher tax for fine rolling tobaccos and smoke less (for many reasons) which we support, our belief remains that had not the pipe tobacco alternatives been introduced, RYO as a sector would have continued to grow. It simply makes more sense given the purity of the better products, the nudge given to even more moderation and the independence of choice for the consumer that if you want to smoke tobacco, you should not be limited to narrow choices of tobacco offerings. There is also the observed tendency that the more cigarettes you make even at home at one time, the more of them you will smoke. As we've stated often, our belief is that one should make them as they want them, that the "Pack Mentality" leads to higher consumption. I personally smoke a small handful of tobacco sticks per day (4-6). However if I make a case full, say for the golf course or for the rare situation I can't take an injector, tubes, and tobacco with me and make them on the go, I do smoke more. Not a lot more but certainly more than if I make them one at a time as freely desired and never NEEDED remaining fully conscious of what I am doing. Simply and obviously, the fewer sticks one makes, the fewer they will smoke. Smoke of any kind or from any source can be detrimental depending on exposure and dosage and certain other factors that range from health, lifestyle, diet and likely even genetics. Moderation is the key to enjoying many things that in too large of quantity may be hazardous.

So we find that if indeed the aforementioned retailer located mass production machines leads to increased consumption, we cannot intellectually support their existence. Whether the government should have any say in this is quite another thing. Government in general intrudes too deeply already on our personal choices and behavior and on business environments as well. It really should be up to the individual (given full disclosure of scientifically sound, peer reviewed data from real research) to make these choices. Every position of the opinion spectrum is present on the tobacco issue. From the one end, those who feel they should be able to smoke anywhere, even around non-smokers or children to the more logical and caring position that producing smoke into the environment has some level of responsibility.

Personally I don't like other people's smoke (or their perfumes, deodorants or their loud music in genres I can't stand). I hate subwoofers in cars sitting next to me but use them in the studio frequently (the studio is soundproofed). I enjoy smoking outdoors and in relative privacy and a big part of that is that when I do smoke, it is almost a transcendental moment, a moment for relaxing and thinking, a moment of self, turning inward and appreciating the outward without distraction.   And often I achieve this state of being without tobacco at all especially when in the great outdoors. I don't always smoke during a round of golf and when hiking or camping, my smoking is limited to rare occasions (like around a campfire - where there is plenty of smoke already). Again that's my take on tobacco and not yours. Yours is a personal and hopefully well defined choice as well. So no, I don't like the very idea of mass producing cigarettes for customers a carton at a time but again, I do think that the government may be over reaching (nothing new) on this one. And I don't like the punitive taxation driven social engineering that is increasingly effecting everyone in sectors well apart from tobacco. In truth, I can envision a day when the ridiculous taxation on rolling tobacco will be reduced back to levels that were equal to other forms of tobacco (and not by raising pipe tobacco tax to current RYO levels.) To find for yourself the status of the controversy (which if read carefully also in a minor way addresses the pipe versus ryo tobacco issue as well), the following links will be helpful.

This first link takes you to the Arkansas state website (we picked this one fairly arbitrarily but have been told that these "vending" machine are illegal there already). Once there, type in the small search box at top right simply "ryo" without the quotes and that will lead you to the original documents filed by TTB against the above mentioned machines. Instead of using the .pdf link, select the "quick view" option for a faster and easier to read download. This September 30, 2010 document is the first kegal salvo from the TTB against these machines that we know of. It is four pages of simple reading (unlike most of the research papers we have to read.)


This link below will take you to the TTB site where more information is available about the requirements of being a cigarette manufacturer as well as the TTB NOTICE of injunction/restraining order issued by a court in Ohio to stop temporarily in the enforcement of the law as the TTB interprets it.


The Notice by itself temporarily "enjoined" the TTB from enforcing the regs they site is found by following this third link below but it would be wise and certainly enlightening to read the text of the second link above as there is certain information there that may be critical to the outcome of all this and in any decisions retailers might make in contemplating offering such a service to their customers. Again we have no legal opinion as to this matter, but do have the above stated philosophical concerns.


Finally we received many comments on the April update below. Almost all were in agreement. We should state however that there are MANY fine companies and people participating and working in this industry. It should also be obvious to all humans that when it comes to things they deeply care about and the products involved, we as consumers want to see both passion and knowledge displayed by those who both make and sell these products. Pretty simple. More soon and as always we appreciate your feedback on these and all other issues - except guitars and religion. - the ed



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Wednesday 4/11/11


The S-CHIP and How the RYO Industry Blew it!

We and most of our readers view this as a FACT: If the fine rolling tobacco industry had trusted (post S-CHIP) the dedicated consumers of their products to go ahead and pay (grudgingly no doubt) the higher taxes on rolling tobacco, and had NOT converted to the pipe tobacco strategy (even with its lower taxation rate), or the expanded tobacco downgrade, not only would there be even more fine blends of rolling tobacco available today, but the chances of far more converts to CMC/MYO/RYO from packaged brands would have increased, likely dramatically.  The blends that would have disappeared would have been the really low grade tobaccos of the time which with the extra tax added would have been almost as expensive as the very best blends. The result, people would have face universally better products and would have grown even more appreciative of quality and logically would have reduced consumption. Few if any would have returned to packaged brands.

This Industry failed to understand the passion of its customers for fine tobacco and the highly unlikely  scenario of any of its customers going back to packaged brands. Yes some may have quit smoking altogether which is just fine with me but we know that people with a true passion for fine tobacco would not lose that passion and would begin or continue use of this quality product wisely and in lower volumes per capita.

Why? Well certainly even though the new price/tax differential between rolling and pipe tobaccos was significant (obscene in fact perhaps even criminal), the burning characteristics, the ease of injection or hand rolling, and the overall stability of the stick will always remain significantly better with finer cut tobaccos. Injectors don't like the larger cuts and smokers don't like the uneven burn which can result in pre-mature ash dropping. And in general, even fine quality tobacco when taken to the size of significantly larger cuts, tastes different. Uneven burn creates uneven flavor. Pure enjoyment diminishes, often a lot. So again why?

We have found (after 10 years of observation and questioning at trade shows and in conversations with nearly everyone in this industry), that among ryo manufacturers and retailers, about the same percentage of these people smoke as does the general population. No problem so far. What is a problem is that most in this industry who do smoke, smoke either packaged cigarettes or cigars. They rarely if ever make their own; at trade shows they all suck back on cigars, and even at booths demonstrating various rolling tobacco blends (or now pipe tobacco blends), you'll find a large amount of the reps that do smoke, smoking packaged brands. So only around 20 % of those who do smoke in this industry actually make their own cigarettes even though they work in this industry and sell this industry's products. That is appalling!

It is no wonder that the manufacturers and retailers have no clue as to what passion its customers have for the fine tobaccos pre S-Chip and what these consumers might have been willing to pay to keep the quality coming.  It is no wonder why these same people have focused on "CHEAP" for so very long, rather than the more accurate and positive metric of "QUALITY". They have NO experience and none of the passion of their own consumer clients. Now some did not abandon the rolling tobacco part of the industry. Stokkebye and a few other kept their ultra fine high quality rolling tobaccos flowing and some both kept their rolling tobaccos and added pipe tobaccos as a hedge because of the low cost, low quality competition from many of the pipe tobacco-only manufacturers. Many of the new so called pipe tobaccos, that emerged out of nowhere after S-CHIP, were and are absolutely horrible with qualities nearly indistinguishable from packaged cigarettes. Cheap-ass foreign tobacco, grown under almost no supervision unlike the rules that the American farmer adheres to. Some with a great heritage of quality leaf increased the cut and though the blends themselves are still very high quality, the smoking experience of them is not as elegant. Those we recommend as "Pipe" tobaccos for the use which they are labeled. However with those higher quality tobaccos, for a while at least the consumer can adjust to the larger cut and wait to see if the TTB ever addresses the pipe tobacco issue. In all honesty if it stays with its current definition of pipe tobacco (which is basically what the product states on its packaging), there would be no reason for increased cut size. And then the junk tobacco merchants would begin to disappear.

Again keep in mind our strong and well researched opinion: had there been no change in blends in the RYO Sector, the consumer would have adjusted to the new higher cost and simply reduced consumption. They would NOT have returned to packaged cigarettes. And since all would have felt the pain of the Federal government's special interest driven higher taxation, a lot more people would have got involved in making sure that those that voted for S-CHIP paid the price in the last election and the upcoming one as well. As it stands now, the TTB WILL eventually get around to defining pipe tobacco from rolling tobacco, but having waited so long to do so, some great real tobacco manufacturers may not survive. Stokkebye continues to report success with its highly devoted customers (deservedly so) but we've lost more than a few fine blends. It is no surprise as Stokkebye has always been the hallmark of fine smoking tobacco.

Keep in mind many of the retailers we include as not knowing their tobacco or clientele's passion are known as tobacco outlets, which is basically a euphemism for cigarette stores that also may sell relatively   small percentages/amounts of ryo products. Tobacco Outlets as we have often mentioned are not Tobacconists. Those true tobacconist level retailers are the 20% we mention who do know tobacco and who focus more on high quality rather than CHEAP mass consumption, be it cheap loose tobacco or cigarettes. And though packaged cigarettes are anything but cheap, many American smokers remain hesitant to buy into the "poor man's cigarette" that so many non-tobacconist retailers promote. And they hesitate as American's in general are highly motivated not to appear "poor". We become very angry when we hear people, even high up in this industry make stupid comments like "the only reason people choose to make their own cigarettes are because they are poor"

This economy is getting increasingly hard. Fuel prices are once again hitting the outrageous levels of a few years ago. The public's response is now as it was then, which is driving less, as much as possible. The same strategy is appropriate for those who truly love high quality tobacco. Use less but continue to enjoy each precious puff. Few with cars they care about will buy the no name, unidentified source gasoline one finds at Uncle Joe's Qwiki Fill. If they do they will end up spending far more in repairs down the road. Quality grade gasoline has additives that raise the cost but those additives are designed to keep the engine cleaner and provide more bang for your buck performance such that the immediate price differential becomes much less relevant. In my own experience, I get far better mileage from my vehicles with higher grade gasoline than I do with the highly suspect cheaper stuff. And in my location, stations like Chevron, Shell, Exxon, 76, Texaco, and the like are still doing a very robust business when compared with the lower grade anonymous non-branded alternatives. People understand that quality auto products do offer advantages that help prevent down the road problems, which can cost exponentially more than the few pennies one saves with low quality gas.

And again the proposition that ryo products users will one day exceed those of the big cigarette companies will be further delayed, but it will eventually be realized. The high taxation of ryo could have been negotiated down after time if this industry had bit the bullet and continued to provide the wide array of superb products. Why?, Because Congress favors and fears the wealthy and more highly educated. They have no regard whatsoever for those who fit into their distorted model of the poor, dumb citizen. For now Big Cigarette and Big Pharma are the only victors except for the handful of manufacturers who stayed true to their purpose, that is producing the finest smoking tobacco in the world. And the reduced consumption per capita would have already borne fruit as to people's relationship with tobacco, their smoking costs would have remained ostensibly the same with said reduced consumption, and the changes in their physical well being, that so many of our readers report, would have gained more and more notice. We can only hope that either the TTB will drop the whole issue, which is unlikely, or they will move soon to rationally define the playing field. Or perhaps find a temporary middle taxation ground for "General Purpose Tobacco".

And one other thing I hear too often that really disturbs me is the statement by more than a few junk merchants, that their involvement in ryo is only temporary, are in it for the short term profits, basically, to make a bunch of money and then get out. That is hardly a commitment that the consumer can afford to buy into and certainly never rely on. We need to see a huge increase in the number of true tobacconist level shops. They can be quite profitable and make for not only a currently attractive small business but do have a great future when all this crap comes to a head.

As to big cigarette companies and big pharma's part in all of this, our opinion is rather simple. Big cigarette companies do not want to see people lose their addiction to nicotine or reduce consumption. Big Pharma greatly fears the natural process which most of our readers and I personally have enjoyed using much more pure forms of tobacco. Again, that process is dramatically reduced consumption (which, in most cases, has nothing to do with price) and complete or exponentially reduced dependence on nicotine. You don't need smoking cessation aids (a multi- multi billion dollar industry for big pharma and one that has a ridiculously ineffective record of success). Smoking pure tobacco in moderation will lead to a complete (or nearly so) loss of dependence as clearly expressed by personal experience and by a vast majority of our readers. Is it any wonder why both Big Cigarette Companies and Big Pharma lobbied so aggressively for the S-CHIP excesses. And it is a shame that Obama was too dumb not to see it. Or maybe he did see it and just did not care. I expected a great deal more from the man. If he or any other politician really cared about you, they would have encouraged an industry that provided a significantly more pure product. And keep in mind that the cost of this bill (that you are paying for) - the S-Chip, that was supposed to be in the neighborhood of $35 billion has been upgraded to at least an estimated $78 Billion.

We have another election coming in a year and a half and with nearly 50 million smokers in this country, a lot of power to change not only the executive branch and thus all the agencies under its control, but those members of Congress who were complicit in this scheme as well. Which is still nearly all career politicians. You have a few months to think about it and find candidates who are more even handed, less for sale representatives of not only freedom from control of your personal behavior but folks with whom you, as a citizen, will have an equal seat at the lobbying table. And for those who reject one issue politics or single issue voting, ask yourself if anyone, (ANYONE no matter how inexperienced in politics) you know or hear of who is new at the game, who might become a candidate, could be any more in-effective in all matters than the lineup we currently have sucking up the air (and big dollars) in Washington. I've never met a private citizen who could possibly do a worse job than our current roster. Never! There are people I wouldn't hire to fill my mountain bike tires that would make today's career politician look like very dense bricks. Slick but very dense bricks whose only cerebral wiring connection seems to be to their mouths.  Which is why you never hear anything from career politicians other than the party line. Not an original thought from any of them in the bunch. And not only are they dense, they paradoxically lack any substance at all.

Once again it is (as it always has been) up to you to effect change. Avoid retailers who provide only junk products, just as you must avoid politicians whose ideas offer no better than junk solutions, solutions that when all is said and done, profit only these junk politicians. And remember always that there is a huge difference between VALUE and CHEAP. And most often the ultimate difference in cost is exceedingly small! But the rewards of true VALUE are enormous!



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