| I wanted to
get this cover article out before I go to the NATO (National Association of Tobacco
Outlets) convention in Las Vegas. Given the war with Iraq, al-Queda, and others, much
needs to be said about how our civilization uses the dwindling resources (including the
fine young people who are stuck with the duty of protecting us) that remain. My hope of
putting in perspective that which affects and will affect our lives years from now when
the events of the past few years are only bitter memories is one of necessity not
self-indulgence. We must keep our eyes on the future and institute future oriented
thinking methods or we will likely find ourselves constantly in turmoil. Whether it is
hostility or taxation that keeps you up at night, rest assured that the power to change
these things is within our collective reach.
When we return next week, we have a great deal to show you in the way of new and interesting products, like Rizla's new "cigarette sized" tubes and injectors as well as some very innovative new 120mm rollers from HBI designed to roll tobacco in newly designed tobacco leaf wraps. There are a number of new tobaccos including Canadian Classic from Republic and new light versions from both H&R Tobacco and D&R Tobacco. We think you are going to enjoy these new products and the others that we will cover. Be back in a week. - the ed.
Also be sure to check out the Rolling Papers section in this issue. During the months of June and July we will be holding bi-weekly drawings (every two weeks) for a full box of rolling papers of your choice. This promotion is sponsored by the nice folks at Rolling Paper Warehouse. (www.rollingpaperwarehouse.com) The only requirement is that you email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the contest. No names to think up or questions to answer. Winners will be contacted by e-mail and, after age verification, will receive their prize. Go to our Rolling Papers Section for more info or click on the e-mail link above to enter. One winner will be announced every other week, with the first drawing held June 10th.
WE HAVE OUR SECOND WINNER!!!
When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, I, along with several billion humans world-wide were shocked and saddened. In this country naturally the feelings went far deeper, with a sense of personal violation arguably unmatched in our history. The resulting deaths were a loss for many nations represented and took on a very personal note to most all civilized human beings. These past months have seen many tragedies for humans, the Rhode Island night club fire, the Chicago club fire, the DC sniper, child abductions, as well as numerous atrocities committed against people all over the world by terrorists and supposedly legitimate governments alike. The cost of human life loss is always painful to bear but one must remember that far more people are killed on the highways of this country alone not to mention the murders that occur daily here than we have suffered at the hands of terrorists. Too often these sad chronicles of the human race are soon forgotten and have little direct impact on the long term potential of the human species.
While I am affected emotionally (anger or sadness depending) each time I am exposed to these kinds of events, none had a more profound effect on me than the loss of the SST Columbia. While wars and terrorism, and accidents and violence, in general, kill a lot more people, the loss of the Columbia hits at the very heart of the dreams, ambitions, and future of all humanity. There is no doubt that if we, as a species, begin to look at a bigger picture, a wider perspective, if you will, on the possibilities of exploration and the development of immensely useful technologies, that one day we perhaps can begin to forget our petty squabbles. Moreover we may evolve into organisms that really have the ability to seek unbiased truth and stability, and eventually find it. We are the first species to inhabit this planet that has a chance to avoid the pattern of extinction that has been the rule since the planet was formed.
There are vast amounts of resources in our cosmic neighborhood and much of the strife in our world could be ameliorated or eliminated completely were these abundant resources shared equally among present and future generations on this planet. However, to exploit these resources, we are going to have to commit to much larger budgets for space exploration and related technologies and reduce eventually to zero the insane waste we create fighting among ourselves. We must build a cooperative relationship with every nation possible to get our butts of the ground and begin to make a future that is above those trivial disagreements that cause real damage to progress. That is why I mourn the loss of the Columbia and its crew of gallant and very special folks. There are too many out there already who are looking for justification to further cut NASA's already embarrassingly small budget, whining that the money would be better spent on Earth. As if that money would in any way make things better here. It most likely would be wasted in typically useless or short term, near-sighted programs. We have thrown trillions at poverty, war, education, and social engineering programs with very little return that can be demonstrated as effective for the betterment of the world we inhabit. The answers to a fuller, freer life for all are simply not on this planet. But the questions and means to find the answers are. And the time we have for reaping the benefits may not be that long before we have reduced our capability for even minimal self-help.
In a world view, wars, political differences, religious differences, boundary disputes and the like all come down to either power struggles or lack of resources. And often, even struggles over power have more to do with resources than ideology. Few terrorists are sown from the seeds of healthy societies. While there will always be those who want power over others, evolutionary-scale advances, such as a robust space exploitation technology can produce, is a threat to all existing power broker mentalities. That is a good thing. A case in point: Fossil fuel companies spend a certain amount of R&D funds on alternative energy sources, just in case, but not nearly as much as they spend on advertising their existing products and lobbying to make sure their fossil fuel dogma has a major and continuing impact on the world economy.
In much the same way and in all areas of research, be it technology based or human health based, competition for placement (ranking and funding) and power (implementation) is more often than not, more important than true cutting-edge, advancement oriented achievement. Rarely are truly new ideas explored, as building on older ones or existing research is cheaper and easier to sell to an already skeptical consuming public and offer much bigger profits for those who already own the technology roots and infrastructure. The fact is, however, that without major changes in thinking, both scientifically and philosophically, things are likely to get both better and then worse in an never ending cycle of gratification followed by disappointment. We will get to the subject of how this is related to tobacco specifically in a moment but first it is prudent to expand the arena dimensionally to include our entire way of life, existence itself, in order to build a foundation on which to compare how the relatively insignificant and relatively current controversies arising over tobacco use relate to the bigger issue of what is in store for our species. If we do not begin immediately to consider the true ramifications of the strategic opportunities that present themselves to us, even given our current level of intellectual and technological development, we have little chance for long term survival. (For a most exciting and thought provoking narrative look at the biological history of our planet and the relative tenacity that some of our remote ancestors exhibited as well as a look at the true fragility of any species that is vulnerable to catastrophic forces from without that are truly beyond their control, read Stephen Baxter's award winning novel, "Evolution". Click on the book graphic at left to buy it from Amazon.com. It is currently available only in hardcover but I assure you it is a novel you will re-read many times, especially when you begin to contemplate the importance of, and niche filled by, the species Homo Sapiens. It is a great read and it will give you a whole new perspective on the relative unimportance of what you read in your daily newspaper, especially if you do nothing about it).
For instance, both Los Angeles and parts of Israel are gardens built from nothing more than desert sand. The Nile valley of Egypt was once a flourishing green environment replete with vegetation filled fertile land. It is no longer. Humans do have the power and ability (and have had for a long time), to transform their environment but at the same time are very vulnerable to changes in environment that are beyond ordinary methods of control. Historically this balance of ability to create and our tendency to destroy has been buffered by the fact that our planet has been a relatively stable platform over the past ten thousand years or so and we have really only begun to use natural resources in quantities that can have serious consequences. We are quickly approaching the point of diminishing return. There is, after all, only so much natural resource and most of the transformations human have accomplished have been at the expense of the impoverishment of others. One can only conserve and recycle that which is originally available and these original resources are unwaveringly finite. More important still is that we must begin to filter the insignificant and to develop a operating vision that concentrates on things that are of larger long-term significance. It is time in plain English, for the people and the government that is our representative begin making plans for the future that extend well beyond the term of any one administration or even any one generation.
The case should be easily apparent that we must find resources from without our own biosphere if we are going to support the ever-growing population of planet Earth. We must keep in mind that the entities that inhabit this lonely rock have ever-increasing needs and desires for improved living standards. There is simply not enough resource on this planet for the entire human species to enjoy the standard of living we here in the US take for granted. In the asteroid belt alone, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, there is far more water ice than this planet could ever want or use. Out there among what too many feel is a void filled with dead rocks are also valuable minerals, metals, and polymers, as well as many more exotic materials, that could support the Earth bound civilization for millions of years even with our present mindset of non-renewable consumption. The technology exists today for mining such resources and returning them in usable form to near earth orbit. It would be risky to human life but clearly not statistically dangerous enough to dissuade our attempts to explore and begin to exploit this vast residue of treasure left over from the formation of our solar system. The cost would be far less than a healthy sized war, like the ones that we are, have been, and will no doubt be waging with insects like Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, and the pajama clad ChiaPet leader of North Korea in the future.
Don't get me wrong, it is not that these sad examples of humanity do not pose certain threats to us immediately, personally and to the world in general, but the fact is, that there will always be these types of psychotic narcissists who will arise simply because their power base is formed and supported by constituents whom they can convince are being denied their proportionate share of an ever-decreasing pie. It really is all about power, greed, and inequality, a situation that is easily remedied in a scenario where plenty for all abounds. There is simply not enough resource to go around if we relegate our search for vitals to only those areas under our feet. Given our limited resources already, the transfer of vast amounts of this precious wealth, coerced from the populace by unjustified taxation and fear based equivocations, into the hands of governments and other institutions who rely on the notion that they know what is better for you than you yourself do, is a sure recipe for a dead-end disaster. And the brick wall we eventually hit will be fatal.
The many trillions of dollars that are spent on armaments by the world's governments have proved not only ineffective as deterrents to aggression but from a practical standpoint are truly poor investment strategies for improving the future well-being of this planet's inhabitants. True we have become less vulnerable to nation level attacks but are less safe from individual zealots than ever before. And changing from a "strategic" method of protection cannot be done unilaterally. It must be a cooperative effort. I shudder to think what would happen if the US suddenly disarmed. Nonetheless with enough resource thrown at protection, the technology exists to improve our "umbrella." Even so, true safety from our neighbors on this planet will never be achieved by agreement. I will only come to pass when every human has the unimpeded opportunity to access those things that are basic to a fulfilling life.
The trillions of dollars that have been collected in this country alone for various taxation schemes including tobacco, have produced little in the way of progress, prosperity (except of course for a handful of opportunists) or health improvements and have nothing to do with our personal safety from outside aggression. So really, though the mindset that has directed much of the world against tobacco has been bred in the same womb as most other waste oriented, greed motivated, power hungry hypocrisies, it cannot be justified by even the simplest measures of efficacy. On any scale represented, whether local state, federal or global, the control of waste and greed is solely the responsibility of those that are being shaken down. In this country we have the power of the vote to choose those leaders who have a better plan for the future. The problem is most "career" politicians are nearly identical when it comes to the free use of the public purse. They all have vested interests that they allude to being representations of the sentiments of their constituents, but in fact these "public servants" are a special "club" that is enraptured with power. They see only the short term, the immediately convenient strategies (two, four, or six years depending on their particular term of office) that will keep them in favor for one or more terms. Rather than leading us on a path to future prosperity, they myopically are implementing funding for the digging of a hole while, at the same time, charging us for the tools necessary to fill it in.
A case in point and the theme of this article is our country's failure to begin the aggressive exploitation of space. NASA's budget has been devastated and with the loss of Columbia it is possible the shuttle will not fly again for a couple of years. However, the shuttle, as far as aerospace design goes, is still basically 1960's and 70's technology. Yes, there are much more sophisticated guidance systems and other add-on components that speak of higher technology, but the system itself still lacks the kind of redundancy and flexibility in areas that are critical to the craft's and the program's survival. Columbus brought three ship to the New World, not one. Redundancy should not have a negative connotation when it applies to exploration or cutting edge science. And flexibility once a mission is under way is vital. Some of the more promising programs like the International Space Station are in serious jeopardy. Too many earth bound imaginations are consumed with problems on the ground and fail to realize that many of the answers to much of what frustrates humankind lies out there, outside our tiny biosphere. And Space Station based research and human progress, in general, are going to require far better launch capabilities not to mention far better and safer return strategies from orbital environments. Safety and cost seem to be irreversibly linked but it is inefficiency caused by the lack of a real long term plan that is even more expensive. We spend development dollars on new systems only to throw them away before they are fully functional. This kind of budgetary shuffling is indicative of short term thinking on the part of NASA as well as those who fund it, as these ever changing strategies seem unequivocally geared to election year cycles.
Two related and extremely important programs have also been severely handicapped by budgetary cuts. NGLT, and RLV (NASA has always been acronym happy). NGLT is Next Generation Launch Technology and RLV is Reusable Launch Vehicle. The first is vital to expanding our ability to put cheaper payloads in space and consequently more of them. The cost of putting communications satellites in orbit is enormous but that particular aspect of the space program is more than paying for itself by leasing time and bandwidth on these devices to companies that provide services that are used by a large percentage of the human population. However there are other more important things that should go into orbit and not just pure science, pie in the sky experiments that provide little return on investment. There is no doubt of the potential for chemical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs in the zero G and vacuum environment the space station provides and these as well as materials research cannot be done in earth based labs and these technologies like communications can return serious profit.. However, in addition to these potential profitable technologies, we really should be examining much more closely our immediate system neighborhood for resources. Our solar system is abundant with materials that we desperately need for expanding the size of the overall pie so that more can experience the abundance as well as the necessities. The fact is, unless we develop more efficient methods of throwing into space, systems that can discern and then exploit the vast resources out there, we are going to relegate US to the position of a second rate power, no matter how strong our military becomes. Why? Because military might requires huge amounts of resources that we unfortunately depend on from potential enemies. If we are truly to become self sufficient as a country, and thus truly in control of our own destiny, we need to look elsewhere for the materials necessary to accomplish this.
China, Japan, and Europe are already becoming serious competitors for our launch capability profits. We rely on Russia extensively for orbital placement of people and materials. If you think our dependence on foreign oil is bad, imagine our predicament if we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of these entities for cost-effective access to space. Sure, we most likely will always be able to launch from US based sites, but if our competitors develop better and far cheaper means to get there, our aerospace industry will eventually die on the vine. We will be in exactly the same position we now find ourselves with oil. And that is only a part of the equation. A reusable vehicle as defined by the current SST (Space Shuttle) technology is barely if at all cheaper than building a new one each time. The months of refurbishment after a mission was fine for a first experimental program, but it has long been time to improve the efficiency of this system. Newer RLV's are needed and it takes serious commitment in time and money to R&D these kinds of designs. Human space flight and thus direct human hands-on participation in space requires reusable vehicles. Too many creature comforts and necessities are needed to support humans in a working space environment to be throwing the vehicle away each time OR to rely on what amounts to functionally, a total rebuild each time it flies. We need a space plane that can access orbital locations without the explosively dangerous and inefficient lift offs, that cause so much stress to the vehicle and thus shorten its life and endanger its crew. Good designs have been around for decades but funding is simply not being applied, even when it is marginally available, for getting such a design off the drawing board. One of our competitors may beat us there as they spend so much less on military budgets and on foreign aid, that they can afford a more robust R&D oriented strategy. They also spend and waste a lot less on manipulative and costly social engineering programs, and regulation of personal behavior, tobacco included. There really are practical yet visionary alternatives.
At the right above is an idea from the fertile imagination of Arthur C. Clarke. The Space Elevator. This idea which has sound engineering principals as a basis, has been around for several decades. Clarke brought it to its ultimate usability in the "Fountains of Paradise". Kim Stanley Robertson made it a central focus of his best selling Mars Trilogy, "Red, Green, and Blue Mars". Today's cutting-edge materials industry has developed ultra light weight/ultra strong carbon fiber materials that are already showing strength to weight ratios that approach those necessary for such a technology. Basically this system anchors one end a a very strong light weight "cable" to an asteroid in a high geosynchronous (stays over the same spot on earth) orbit. This anchor, with slight adjustments uses the centrifugal force inherent to objects in such orbits to keep the cable tight. The other end is attached to a point on the Earth. The elevator runs up and down on this cable using electricity. It has been estimated that this technological feat would be pretty expensive, but certainly no more so than the Apollo Moon program technology of the 60's (which we so typically walked away from after we had it in our hands) and the benefits are enormous. For instance it has been further estimated that once such an elevator is constructed (rest assured it will be, if not by the US then one of the other entities mentioned above), the cost to launch a ton of material into near earth orbit would be reduced from the hundreds of millions of dollars spent today to about $10 worth of electricity. Once in orbit systems can be assembled easily for missions to other parts of the solar system where treasure awaits in unimaginable quantities.
This magazine has evolved over the years from one that simply reviewed products to one that now has the ability to reach a sufficient audience that, by their sheer numbers, can begin to affect change. We are incredibly interested in the views of our readers who share copious amount of knowledge with us and we encourage them to share those same data sets with others around them. This is no longer about tobacco alone. This really is about who, we as a people, will allow to make choices for us and how we can control the choices they make on our behalf. The first ingredient to gaining that power over our representatives is information which is, interestingly enough, the greatest threat to the very ones who are bent on exerting their control over others.
This issue of RYO Magazine and all that follow will be more additive (poor choice of words in the tobacco business) in nature as we have explored over the last four years pretty much all that is available in the RYO/MYO field. I emphasize "pretty much" as it is a fact that many new products are beginning to show up as companies further explore this new market. Some are improvements on older product lines and some are truly new, revolutionary (well perhaps that is too strong a word) concepts that will further extend the reach of the MYO/RYO experience. At any rate we will be including new products while leaving some of the ones previously looked at in each current issues for sake of comparison.
As mentioned last time, we are beginning to hear serious debate in the media on such issues as fast food taxes, beverage taxes, SUV taxes, with a lot more categories to come. The states are broke and the federal government is enjoying record breaking deficits so where else can they turn but your pocket book. The fact that downsizing of corporations and small businesses alike has been necessary for the private sector, seems to have escaped the mentality and logic of government planners. It is time to get involved at any level possible and this magazine will increase its activities in these areas in the coming year. We will still bring you the information on every fine new product available in this industry as well as keep you posted on improvements (and sadly, possible degradations) of existing products. This year should be an interesting one and we feel pretty optimistic about the state of the economy, at least by mid-year. There may be war, there may be attacks here at home, but it is essential that the citizens of this country maintain control of this government and not allow excesses that sacrifice liberty for safety. Once you lose a right or freedom or accept a new tax, it is very difficult to reverse the situation. Tax cuts are the next issue once the war in Iraq has reached a satisfactory conclusion (that may take quite a while, even though the military part is for the most part at an end). These tax cuts sound nice as we are very careful in supporting any taxation scheme. However it should be noted that even if Bush get his way (which is unlikely) working families and small businesses are going to see little in the way of a rebate or relief. The 750 billion over ten years that seems like the highest figure that will, through compromise, be acceptable to both parties, is only 75 billion per year. With a population of nearly 300 million that means about $250 per year for each man, woman, and child. Of course it won't be distributed that way. Large corporation and large taxpayers will get most of it. They paid the most in so a good case can be made that this is a fair distribution scheme. Fair or not, this cut is not going to improve most peoples buying power more than perhaps a few bags of groceries for the year. As for the "trickle down effect" it is important to remember that most new jobs are created in the small business private sector and these cuts will not be dramatic sources of revenue for these businesses. Tax cuts are not what is needed. Spending is out of control at every level, and not just the amount of money but the very philosophy on how its spent.
This 750 billion dollars is over ten years and nearly 50 times NASA's annual budget. NASA has not shown itself to be particularly good at controlling waste which leads one to the proposition that a lot more participation by the private entrepreneurial sector should be a wise place to direct funding. While the private sector does benefit from NASA contracts, there is still significant waste on NASA's watch. Want to stimulate the economy? Then do it as the tech sector did in the mid to late 90's. With innovation and exciting new technologies ranging from mining space for resources to mining the fertile minds of our citizens in order to solve problems as diverse as immigration, border control, reliable missile defense systems, and reduced dependency on fossil fuel energy production. Rebalance the trade deficit, and resist paying ransoms to countries for their friendship. And perhaps most exciting of all, change the path that we have taken from a service oriented business model to one of innovative production for which we once had unparalleled talents. Accelerate our attempts to interest young people in the sciences, especially cutting edge manufacturing and transportation specialties as well the the chemical and physical sciences. We have way too many lawyers, MBA's, and real estate agents. Want to stimulate the economy. We need a multi-generational passion for the concept of what IS possible - not what isn't.
Our greatest hope at his magazine is that we will stimulate our readers and those they come in contact with to begin a journey that involves increased self reliance and control over every aspect of their personal lives. If you don't like taxes or the legislation your representatives are voting for, find new candidates and vote for them. If you work for someone else, start your own business on the side. Stay flexible. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, practice moderation and by all means have FUN. Exorcise the bitterness life sometimes injects and replace it with a sense of adventure. Look up once in a while and remember the dreams we had of the stars when we were kids. Begin to think of the larger universe where opportunities unimagined lie. The only limit to the achievements possible for each and every one of us are the ones that we place on ourselves or allow other to place on us. With these principles in mind let us once again state the purposes that guide the production of this publication.
Most of the information in this magazine is directed solely at those people of legal age who already smoke, those who are trying to reduce their tobacco intake, those wishing to spend less money on tobacco, and who are interested in creating their own cigarettes using high quality tobacco products of their choosing - in general, those who wish to have, in our opinion, a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, wish to encourage people to smoke. Further, we subscribe to a more sane, more logical approach for those that chose to smoke, that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong commitment to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed without obsession, and hopefully, with minimal health risks. No sensible person should assume that the intake of smoke or other pollutants of any kind can be advantageous to your physical health, and we feel that any tobacco use implies demonstrable statistical risk. We submit that, if you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start. However, we are likewise extremely interested in future determinations as to the degree of risk based on dosage and smoking material and encourage much more research to be undertaken, using sound, scientific methods that can be looked at universally, as credible.
Once Again - Our Position On Tobacco
It is our position that because of the sheer enormity of money that is involved in the tobacco debate, and the fact that such vast amounts of resource can breed fraud and corruption, as evidenced by the large number of claims of violations attributed to the cigarette industry, as well as counter-claims of fraudulent research methods by those on the other side of the issue, much more needs to be done to quantify the specific elements of tobacco smoke as well as specific elements of other sources of smoke and pollution in our environment that can lead to health problems. We therefore stress as a logical and necessary step forward, in order to ameliorate the controversy and lessen the divisive nature of the subject, that any and all tax revenues that are collected on tobacco, other than those funds needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
The above needs more in the way of specifics, especially concerning the "scientifically qualified panels" and methods of redress of these panels by the public. The Master Settlement Agreement (which you should read sometime) already addresses the cigarette companies' faults and responsibilities of issues 4 & 5 above. However, unlike President Bush's Homeland Security Bill that grew from 40 pages as it left his desk to over 400 pages by the time it left the House of Representatives, there should be no need for over-engineering a simple and logical plan that addresses the stated interests of the medical community and the individual rights of the people to know. The details of taxation, punitive damages, and research are beyond the understanding of few.
The emerging Make You Own philosophy, (which is basically to regain control of our ability to chose and be proactive in our views) especially as it extends well beyond the scope of tobacco, is potentially a very powerful political force that, with enough visibility, could forseeably change the way our government looks at the control of its population and better define the risks governments take in supporting tax-driven, social engineering schemes. We at RYO Magazine are dedicated to the prospect of accurate and fair information regardless of subject, as well as the uncompromising appreciation of quality above profit. Profit will come from quality and have more lasting benefits as well. We also believe that given complete and honest data, humans are more than capable of making wise decisions. With the recent increases in taxation on packaged cigarettes in so many states, even greater interest is being directed at this magazine and the industry as a whole - this is increasing daily. We feel an obligation to play it straight with our readers, who come from every point of view imaginable, from every continent on the planet, as they are our most valuable resource.
More On Brand Names
The MYO world, as I mentioned in the last issue, is relatively young compared with RYO and manufactured brand cigarettes as well. In fact, most products that are exclusive to MYO like tubes and injectors (even that word scares folks though stuffer is even worse), sound more like industrial equipment labels than consumer oriented products. Of course, tobacco is not produced with just injectors in mind so the great old names associated with fine tobacco like Stokkebye, with Bali, McClintock, etc., had no reason to change their branding schemes for their inclusion in this burgeoning industry. Now ten years ago I had never even heard the name Peter Stokkebye. In fact, it took a couple of years after that before I could properly pronounce it. However from the moment I saw it on a can of tobacco, I somehow 'knew" it must be classy. The name looks good and when you correctly pronounce it, it sounds good (stoke-a-bee). It was years later when I finally met the man himself and of course, after that, I knew that my initial impression of elegance and quality was well placed. Peter has been an icon in the pipe tobacco industry for a very long time and enjoyed the same reputation in the rolling industry but to a much more secular crowd. By the way Peter has a book (at left), his biography actually, that you would find fascinating if you love good tobacco as I do, and are curious as to its production and roots, not to mention if your are interested in sharing the adventures that this fascinating human being enjoyed on the road to becoming a true tobacco icon. If you are interested, click here and we will let you know where you can buy it. The title, "The Life & Good Times of a Tobacco Man," pretty much sums up the episodic flow of this work and all that have read it to date have been enriched. We recommend it highly as we feel it important to understand the amount of care and hard work involved in creating incredible tobacco blends as well as the decades of experience necessary to even begin to understand producing tobacco as an art form.
The Industry In General
It is our observation, and we have found few to disagree, that the RYO market has remained reasonably the same for a very long time, especially in the US. A certain portion of the population here will always prefer rolling their own cigarettes. While in Europe, handrolling is FAR more popular than here, Americans continue to gobble up pre-made, brand name cigarettes because they like a finished, more elegant looking things sticking out of their faces. We are a very image conscious culture which is why advertising does seem to work better here than elsewhere in the world. We have a middle class which is almost unique in its substantial wealth and buying power, and that middle class is continually at odds with their dreams of upward fiscal mobility. In other words, most of us want to make a lot more money, or at least look like we already do. This tendency presents an interesting opportunity to the emerging MYO industry and has some real pitfalls as well. We all know the trouble Big Cigarette companies have got themselves and the rest of us into by alleged over aggressive marketing schemes as well as alleged product dilution/alteration strategies. I use the term alleged to give some credence to the fact that the "evil" the cigarette companies have done has been somewhat overstated, in my opinion, especially if you look at the punitive financial costs of these ill-deeds (trillions of dollars overall) and the financial windfalls the prosecution of these offenses have provided to attorneys and so-called health conscious organizations, not to mention all levels of governmental revenue agencies. And, more to the point, little of this windfall has gone to those supposedly damaged by tobacco usage. I also use alleged because I have not personally seen all the data (though I have seen some and it is, at first glance, pretty damning) and have serious reservations about some of the so-called medical research conducted to date. One thing I am sure about however, is that the cookie-cutter products produced by the cigarette manufacturers is inferior in taste to MYO products and the packaging schemes can lead to obsessive consumption.
There, of course, are risks. As MYO becomes more well known, some will say it is just another way to encourage people to smoke. While patently untrue for now, the industry must be wise enough to never take that path regardless of the possible financial rewards. Smoking is self-indulgent, private behavior and, if conducted responsibly, in moderation and away from those who want no part of it, it MAY one day prove to be less of a health risk. We can only go by what we hear from our readers, personal acquaintances and our own personal observations. That is, that package cigarette smokers who convert to the MYO methodology tend to smoke less, appreciate the flavor of tobacco more, and eventually gain control to the point that tobacco is a freely chosen, occasional treat and often they eventually smoke so little that their one or two cigarettes a week are quite possibly of little consequence to their overall health. Providing that kind of alternative to the lifestyle of millions who may be damaging their health smoking pack after pack of manufactured cigarettes daily we feel can only be viewed as an improvement. Smoking tobacco or breathing in any kind of smoke or other particulate matter must certainly pose some health risk. Our aim is to find the truth as to dosage and degree of risk. However, since we are convinced that the MYO method has improved the lives of many already and that in order to attract more current smokers to an environment where quitting is far easier and moderation is a fact, better branding ideas must be realized.
Have some fun today and appreciate the good times. Until next time - Doug
Check out the links below and keep abreast of 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 and the enormous cost of the sheering.
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 subscribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
© 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.