For as long as Man has walked the Earth, RYO has existed.
It has taken many forms but simply, it implies making things for yourself with materials
YOU choose. The acronym RYO is applied to many activities of such personal nature from
various artistic endeavors, the building many things and to even making one's own
ammunition. And tobacco has been around nearly as long as Man has walked this Earth.
Despite much flawed historical statements, tobacco has grown wild for eons. It is a
naturally occurring plant of the nightshade genus. Sure its growing has been improved upon
more recently (hundreds of years ago) but it has existed and been used by humans far
At the very beginning of the 20th
century wealthy connoisseurs of cigarette based smoking had their cigarettes custom made
by their favorite tobacconists. It was not just for snob appeal. Rather it was for quality
that their wealth could afford, much like what they enjoyed in and with fine wines. Today
that same incredible quality is available for all those who choose to smoke and make their
own cigarettes - to their own specifications, and, almost regardless of their fiscal
status (which can be adjusted by consumption levels to fit even the most frugal budget).
Companies like D&R tobacco and Peter Stokkebye and ZigZag make tobacco products that
are unrivaled by most anything found in any packaged cigarette offering anywhere, (perhaps
with the exception of some Nat Sherman products and the high end Davidoffs along with some
American Spirit selections). The nearly endless combinations of fine tobacco made this
possible. Dedicated, tasteful consumers frequently blend several types of fine tobacco
together to adjust specifically to their own tastes. This, again leads to much more
internalization of what the smoker is doing. It becomes far less habitual and far more
contemplative almost immediately.
can write all the letters you want, you can claim foul all you want, and you can whine
about governmental takeover and intrusions into all things you hold dear, again, all you
want, but the true and sole remaining peaceful power that the American people have is
their individual vote. Never again vote for ANY incumbent, and from the pool of possible
candidates who qualify (i.e., not being a "professional politician" is an
absolute first qualification), along with displaying common sense, those who display logic
if you will, and a dedication to seek and embrace good ideas on their merit alone and not
just those ideas which are most likely to be funded by heavily lobbying special
interests). Select those who will commit to one term limits. We need one
term Presidents, one term Reps and one term Senators. We should never again tolerate
"politician" as a job description or a profession. It's the only way this
egregious trend of a more intrusive government (at all levels) will be reversed. And it is
the only way to get the large special interest groups out of the process. Our Reps and
Senators at both the State and Federal level should be banned from meeting with ANY group
representing specific business, ideologies, or unions. The only lobbying group that should
be classified as having access are groups formed by private citizens that the Rep or
Senator represent. So along with the "professional politician", we need an
abrupt end to the "professional lobbyist" They are practically one and the same.
Only with laws passed by this new kind of representative will these institutional
parasites be banned forever from the halls and back rooms of our governments. True citizen
groups are the only entities that should have access to lawmakers. Be sure to read "Once Again - Our Position On Tobacco" following the update info section below.
By Section the new update will include:
Tobacco: Finally a new method for keeping one's tobacco at perfect moisture content is here. It is a product called the FreshStor CVault and it is the most effective and simple to use, two way storage container series yet devised. Go to the Tobacco section of RYO Magazine to see it in action.
This section will remain the most controversial and is the one we absolutely wanted to wait to update until we had one more chance (at the 2012 TobaccoPlusExpo in Las Vegas, in early Feb 2012) to finally and VISUALLY (first hand) verify what the various manufacturers are doing and what they intend to do if a couple of pending legislations pass. The legislations at the Federal level include the PACT Act (2010) which will effect online sales of true ryo tobacco products and other tobacco products such as smokeless (except perhaps cigars - more on that in a moment). This industry (manufacturers) and special interest groups, like the convenience store lobby all support PACT. (Click HERE to view in one place and read all the legal information regarding PACT and HERE for even more detail.)
Suporters of the Pact ActThey say that the internet sources of tobacco cut into the convenience store profits. However what they don't talk about publicly is that the vast majority of convenience stores are attached to gas stations and the oil lobby is a real power behind these lesser lobbying groups. Ask yourself, how many really great products would you buy at a convenience store. I can't think of one. They exist (or should) for those who need last minute or after hours goods to get one by until normal businesses open. Buying tobacco from these establishments is no more logical than trying to buy a good guitar or a good set of tools from them. Tobacco is a serious purchase and the customer is best served by people who specialize in it. Many online sellers of tobacco have a whole lot more knowledge of tobacco than you will find at any convenience store or unfortunately even more than many so called Tobacco Outlets that mostly sell cigarettes. Availability of products through the internet is a driving factor for brick and mortar stores to carry a wider range of products. With no competition from the "NET", states would have unlimited power to even further raise taxes and local retailers could very likely decide to carry a much more narrow selection of products as their customers would have no alternative choice. Much more on this in the Editorial Section when I return. I won't buy anything from a convenience store other than a drink (bottle of water) unless it is in the middle of the night while traveling, if I have been shortsighted enough to be prepared. For me that is exceeding rare. But packaged cigarettes are a huge business for CStores.
The second piece of legislation (to be kind) is known as the Tobacco Tax Parity Act, which involves the controversy created by a number of RYO tobacco manufacturers switching to pipe tobacco blends exclusively. Obviously the excise tax on pipe tobacco is 1/10th of that on rolling tobacco, so though we encouraged certain manufacturers not to go down this path, it was their choice. Congress now, constantly harassed by their respective state governments want to equalize the tax on both products by raising the tax on pipe tobacco to the same level as rolling tobacco, about $25 per pound. Most of you are already aware that rolling tobacco was raised by the latest S-CHIP from $1.03 per pound to this ridiculous $25 level. You can't blame the RYO manufacturers in trying to save their customers some serious money but our contention has always been that the RYO/CMC experience is so superior, that cost should not be an issue and CHEAP never should have been a promotional tool anyway. Yeah I hate the taxation schemes of both the Feds and the States but as far as tobacco, with moderate use of really good tobaccos, consumption usually goes down anyway and will always remain a better value than any packaged cigarette.
One state (TEXAS) even went so far as to begin taxing all loose tobacco at $1.10 per ounce in response to this pipe versus cigarette tobacco debacle. And the problem was exacerbated by certain retailers promoting the new pipe tobaccos for roll you own use. People just can't keep their mouths shut it seems. Anyway it has effected some of our favorite tobaccos, but those like Stokkebye, ZigZag, Republic, and Commonwealth were smart enough (or wealthy enough) to keep their cigarette tobacco lines, even if they decided to offer a pipe tobacco line as well. Stokkebye has been in the pipe tobacco business for very long time (4 generations) and D&R has all the qualifications to be a REAL pipe tobacco manufacturer. D&R practically controls the Perique tobacco supply which is an important component in many historic pipe blends. They have for a long time and still do use Latakia in their blends (another important pipe component), and they changed the cut of their tobacco dramatically rather than simply re-packaging as did some. Anyway this controversy will reach a head and eventually we'll all know where we stand and we certainly look forward to some kind of stability. In the meantime, Stokkebye rules at the high end (where most who really love tobacco should be) and Republic, with Top and Gambler makes good cigarette cut offerings we all are familiar with. The expanded tobacco strategy that Gambler Tube Cut has adopted (they still make regular Gambler) has some negatives and some positives. It appears that Premier has followed the same path but we need to see it to verify. Their original Premier blends introduced a couple of years ago were really quite good. Our readers are torn as much as we are about expanded tobacco. In Canada I hated it. While on a visit to CTC in 2001, Stephane David (then from CTC) and I went into a local tobacco store in Toronto to buy some tobacco. One of my favorites used to be Export A and they had that as well as Players and a few other brands of note. And they all came in three sizes of plastic tubs. Each tub whether it was 10 inches tall or 4 inches tall or 6" held 150 grams. What was that??!! That's right, it went from slightly expanded to REALLLLLY expanded. I bought a 4" and a 10" tub. Looked like a lot more tobacco in the 10 incher. Then I made a stick out the most expanded. Lasted 4 puffs and it was gone. And the taste was significantly different than the less/not expanded in the 4 incher. I talked to a few patrons who absolutely refused to buy the big tubs after being burned a first time. The point is the new Tube cuts and SuperRoll expanded blends from Republic taste a whole lot more like non-expanded Gambler than I expected. And the Tube cut in both experiments we did here along with a friend who owns a bunch of tobacco shops in Michigan who I trust scientifically, found that an ounce of regular Gambler would make about 30 sticks and an ounce of Tube cut about 38 sticks max. So its not THAT expanded which is why it tastes so much better than the expanded crap I found in Canada years ago. Anyway we'll explore this more. We have had numberof readers complain about the Gambler Tube Cut. Nothing like the volume of complaints we had about the New Polish McClintock - but that is another story altogether that will be told when I return.
There is much more politics to share on the Tobacco issue. For instance, here's a teaser: The World Health Organization (WHO) has published its Tobacco Atlas that has a lot of facts about tobacco consumption and where it is grown. On one page of this Atlas it MAKES the case we've been hammering on since our beginnings eleven years ago. According to the WHO, in 1960 it took 2.5 pound of leaf tobacco to make 1,000 cigarettes. By the year 2000, it took only .9 pounds to make the same 1,000 sticks. How you can even classify a packaged cigarette (except for Shermans and a very few others) as tobacco is oxymoronic. We'll show you the actual page when we get back as well as the misleading documents provided to Congress by one of our favorite anti-tobacco nanny groups that caused the S-CHIP excise tax hike to go through the roof. You're gonna love this trail of treachery.
ZigZag blends have improved continuously every year and now make some of the finest widely accessible tobacco out there. There is much more to this story which we will share with you when we return but suffice it to say that with a can of ZigZag (Dark Blue), you will enjoy yourself immensely. Oh yeah, as far as why cigars keep getting a break. It is not just the fat cats in DC liking cigars as many think, although that is certainly a part of the equation. Sources tell us what should already be obvious. The countries that provide most cigars and whose economies strongly depend on these exports to the US are very close geographically to Hugo Chavez and Venezuela, and of course, Cuba. The US does not want to damage relations with Central American, South American, and Caribbean countries for fear they may once again (as during the Reagan administration - the Contras?) begin to align against us. Having traveled quite a bit to those regions in the last few years, North America is not particularly well thought of by many there. It is interesting to note that cigars made here in the US (Miami mostly) from components from the Latin countries have more severe regulatory requirements than the imports. Again more specifics when we return in a week or so. Interesting to note that we're informed that the most powerful lobbying group for the cigar industry in DC are the UN Ambassadors from the potentially affected countries. We are still checking that one out, but I would not doubt it for a minute. And lastly remember that Stokkebye became Villiger/Stokkebye and now is owned by Lane and it is uncertain as to the future of the brand itself but the powers behind all of this (Scandanavian Tobacco Group makes some truly kick ass (as good as it gets) cigars as well as the highest quality cigarette and pipe tobaccos in the world. We just don't yet know how the branding will finally settle out. And Organic Smoke, Inc. with their newewst Organics have finally bridged the gap between great taste and pure organic tobacco. I've never tasted an organic blend (their Virginia) like this. It is absolutely delicious. More on that blend as well.
Rolling Papers: This category is under almost as much attack right now as tobacco, at least from the FDA. Specifically, flavored rolling papers have been made nearly illegal, completely so for tobacco use (is there a caveat there?). However the many purveyors of fine rolling papers still have much to be proud of. Fine rolling papers we have not spent a whole lot of time writing about. The fact is that brands like Bambu (my go to papers for 30 years from the 60s on) are every bit as cool as they ever were and remain one of my very favorite. A tobacco or smoke shop without Bambu papers is operating under false pretenses. Of course there will be no flavored versions, but I've never been a fan of flavored papers no matter what I used to smoke or what I smoke today. Gizeh's Hamf (Hemp) remain a favorite as do all of the Zig Zags. Republic's Ventura Whites (Lights), JOB and Tribals are outstanding as are the Joker series from Commonwealth/RBA. HBI continues its huge line of papers but our favorites remain the RAW series as well as the really classy Elements (some now with magnetic closures - cool). HBI is a great source for retailers as they make not only their own incredible papers but carry just about anything worth carrying in the world of rolling papers from many, many manufacturers. Click on the HBI Tobacco banner below or here to order wholesale quantities of a huge variety of brands. Just go to the page and click on Contact at top or bottom or here to go more quickly and your store will soon be up to date. Again, none of these varied brands are flavored - not for tobacco use per FDA current postions. Read into that what you will and we will explain in a week. Safe to say the Rolling Paper Section has some comprehensive details to investigate and share as to the flavoring issue and ultimately the final rulings on the issue. For now they can be use for herbal mixtures only.
Tubes: There are a few new tubes in addition to the Vera Cruz line which will include in the future not only a slim (6.9mm) version in 84mm as well as ultimately a 100mm slim. (**see the Injector Section now to see what that is about). A new tube, the Beretta, made in the same factory as the VeraCruz is another designer quality tube that is pure eye candy. Gizeh has had their newest 25mm filter element tube, the SilverTip Extra, out for a while and more people need to try it. It is really nice with the expected benefits of the longer element one would expect. There are some really cheap-ass tubes out there as well, but after looking at them, we've decided pretty much "so what". And of course the Premier line, and the Top and Gambler and ZigZag lines are always good values and easily found. Much more on the whole tube picture (much more important to the future of this industry than you might expect is on the Filter Tubes page of this magazine. As with most other categories in this industry, innovation is excitingly energetic and continuing to increase in intensity.
Injectors: 2012 Here the story really gets exciting. (Please note there is already some new stuff at the top of the Injector Section). The Powermatic II, The Powermatic 1 manual crank. The new Easy Roller from Simron with variable speed control, the Casspin Closer and more. While the industry in general has been bombarded with legislation and regulation enough to drive any sane person to the nearest drug store, the innovation in injectors continues to accelerate. A Slim Tube crankstyle from Simron (the EXP2000) is on the way and could likely change this industry in very big ways (the video and the review of the prototype is already in the current Injector Section), Republic has gone DeLorean with the incredible looking T2 Version of the already well respected Top-O-Matic, as well as Republic's little red saucer shaped Gambler injector (think short throw manual sports car shifter) which we've had a year to try and break and have failed to do so, the Supermatic and Excel remain intact and superb. However one thing that we must mention, driven both by a lot of mail from readers and our own experiences: The newer larger pipe cuts are MUCH harder on injectors and consequently we do not recommend them for injecting. Yeah they will go into the tube, but they burn much less smoothly and evenly than cigarette cut tobacco and again, they put a lot of stress on the injector, the fact being that moisture content is ten times more important than ever before with these new cuts to keep from breaking your injector. Frankly if it says Pipe Tobacco on the package, I smoke it in a pipe. I'll share with you my rather elite collection of pipes that I've had and smoked for years and this new pipe tobacco, especially some of the D&R blends, are downright outstanding in a pipe. We also have a new design for a pipe under development that may make the transition (if necessary) easier for those who choose pipe tobacco over cigarette cut. More on that as well. There are a couple of very noteworthy electrics. There is an electric that has undergone a lot of tweaking since we first saw it a few months ago. The designer/manufacturer has gone to great pains to work out the kinks and we have huge hope that this will be a real winner. It is small, electric and uses a spoon and works now as well as it looks cool. There are older versions of this machine (the PowermaticII) out there, but we suggest you wait for the latest version which we now have for testing. It is far superior to its earlier iteration(s). For some, it may be the best electric out there for now and recently we began to feel that it may be the best spoon injector period. The Magnum is finished and but for the down turn in the economy, it would be available now. It uses a gear driven steel rod, (they lost the batteries) and this thing will inject anything that will fit through its nozzle, including rocks. We have one of the only two existing prototypes here and will show it in detail when we return. The push rod design is still the ultimate strategy and TSP really pulled out the stops on this final design. Incredibly powerful planetary motor engaging a direct gear drive. It's awesome, but will be more expensive than the original projections for the original Magnum but legal and financial hoops still have to be navigated. And finally Simron's new EasyRoller is doing some great injections and is priced right. Their new auger and slower speed motor is really changing our views os the potential of auger type injectors for the future. A high quality video of both the PowermaticII and The Easy Roller is on the Injectors page. Be patient. You will be rewarded with any of these machines. The injector world is really looking great!!
Rollers: There are a couple of new rollers worthy of notice. The existing ones are all damn good but HBI has made the effort to make a roller made from really futuristic and more natural materials. And there is a metal roller that is the best roller I have ever seen that was sent to us for our evaluation. We won't say by whom but it was a very large company. The problem is that we loved it, said so, did a personal DVD for the manufacturer with our highest recommendations and yet until we get to Vegas, we won't know if they actually decided to bring it into the US. It is very popular in the UK. And if they don't have it by now, I'm sure someone else (hint) will pick up on the design (barring patent infringements of course).
Grow Your Own: We did our first article on growing your own tobacco in July of 2000. Here is the link. It was obvious to us then that the day may come when a very large number of people would begin to see the benefits and perhaps even necessity of becoming "Tobacco Gardeners". We are a hell of a lot closer now than ever before. Jim Johnson still reigns supreme in knowledge (that he shares with the public) about growing tobacco and what seeds to get. His site (referenced in the 2000 article) remains http://www.seedman.com. We have each year grown small plots of tobacco just to continually retain and expand our personal knowledge of the best practices to achieve success in this endeavor. It really is quite easy and the satisfaction one always derives from doing things for oneself, combined now with the more severe economic/political component, makes this absolutely the time to begin (if you've not already started). Plants can be grown in pots, in small garden plots or in many cases, even indoors. The amount of production possible for one's own use (a very strong caveat) is astounding with little effort, a little knowledge, and some good seed. HBI is now selling a few varieties of seeds, but the Seedman site has hundreds of every kind of tobacco one could hope for. And again no one knows more than Johnson about seeds and personal growing endeavors. When I return we'll will show you the results of this past summer's plantings. We think you will be stunned as to the production and the ease at which it can be achieved. And remember, our goal as far as Grow Your Own is not to hurt the great manufacturers of fine tobacco. It is an insurance policy against a government that has been rotted to the core by special interest groups and others who have taken it upon themselves to force you to live like they do. Growing ones own tobacco may provide the ultimate hedge against such intrusions.
Last thing: You hear the word corrupt or corruption a lot lately. Please remember that this word not only applies to monetary greed or political chicanery. Its true meaning is rotting and decaying, and that we should find even more of a danger to our country and ourselves personally than all the Wall Street Gambling Casinos combined. From a rotten core, the corruption will spread to engulf the entire organism, and the only treatment when that happens is amputation. We have the peaceful and legal means of performing this amputation (career politicians and lobbyists must be removed) but if we wait too long, the corruption could be irreversible. We have before us a severe case of Gangrene in this country and all of you know the ultimate consequence of ignoring that.
And what can be REALLY done you may ask? The following has been at the bottom of this cover page for eight (8) YEARS. It holds as an exercise in logic, as much today as has it always.
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, as well as all punitive damages collected on behalf of US citizens by all local, state, and federal litigations against tobacco, other than those funds already allocated that are needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
There you have it, a pretty comprehensive taste of what the completed new issue of RYO Magazine will look like. With few edits remaining and a little verification as mentioned above, it will begin to show up within a week of our returning: Right now there is a lot of new stuff on the Injectors page and the RollingPapers page to keep you interested and to prepare you for what you've read above.
In the meantime if you have not read what is below, please do so. There is a wealth of information there that remains timely and is, in reality, even more important to your daily lives than the products we review. In fact, if current trends continue unabated by people like you and me, all products we love in every product sector will face regulations unlike those seen in even the most repressive societies in history. And grand schemes supposedly in the public interest that in reality are only cash cows for the few must be seen for what they, in fact, are. It really is in your hands. So take another look below. Enjoy! For the impatient, click here to see how our precious FDA (now in control of tobacco) conducts its business. Its like reading a bad novel that is yet compelling simply because of its lack of focus or path. You can't put it down because you naively remain certain that surely it will eventually make sense and that something, SOME THING, will justify the effort. Good luck. More very soon. - Doug
This issue has been one of the most difficult to finish since our first issue nearly eleven years ago. More on that (a lot MORE) in a moment. First off though, if you have a broadband internet connection, check out the MultiMedia site and send your friends and/or customers there who may have questions about the MYO/RYO methodology. There are comprehensive videos covering all aspects of the experience. And there will be a lot more coming in the future. We are concentrating heavily on this visual aspect as it answers a lot of questions in a very straightforward manner - a manner that seems to be pervasive in our society where reading is becoming somewhat of a lost art. For whatever reason, it is essential that those cigarette smokers interested in perhaps migrating from the obsessive behavior of packaged cigarettes get a clear understanding of the advantages of MYO/RYO. And these many advantages far outweigh simply cost savings. Few retailers actively demonstrate the method. This we know from a lot of readers, especially those new to MYO, who have expressed amazement at the utility of the process. We got far too many letters daily from folks who were confused as to what MYO/RYO is. They are intimidated by the term "injection" and we have had more than a few questions like, "Is injecting tobacco better than smoking it?" That, at least for those that have access to broadband (thus the videos), has been eliminated for the most part. For those that don't, the questions persist. The MultiMedia site speaks for itself and we hope adult readers, old and new, enjoy it. It will grow as new questions come in and as new products emerge whose advantages can best benefit from visual demonstration. Mac users will need the latest Windows Media Player plug-in for Mac, easily obtained by clicking here. Windows users will need the latest Window's Media Video 9 as well, all easily obtained at the preceding link.
Now on to this new issue: This magazine was initially created to show not only the cigarette smoking public the advantages of MYO/RYO/CMC and to highlight what we felt, and still feel, are the best products available, but as importantly to demonstrate and warn of the direction our country (and others) are taking to satisfy special interest groups, in every possible sector of life at the expense of our freedoms. RYO has always meant more to me as a statement of personal choice and independence, than simply an acronym for a superior method of enjoying tobacco. This is the largest, most comprehensive issue to date. It is our intent to make subsequent issues more concise and return to our quarterly schedule. We have a lot of product to show you in this issue and have already accumulated a lot more for the upcoming issue which will be ready in early August after the RTDA show. We do periodic updates to current issues and in this one, one particular area should not be overlooked. As many of you know, we have been traveling extensively this last year, both in the US and abroad. This magazine is read in well over 100 countries and our travels reflect the interest in CMC (MYO) worldwide. .
Now (again) along with showing our readers product, it was, even from its early beginnings, our intention to make tobacco enthusiasts aware of the politics of smoking in general. These "politics" could well be defined as both regulatory and health related and our main thrust in these areas has always been quality, moderation, and public activism. Seeking the truth about tobacco has been of primary concern. The economy of the method has never been our point. Cheap cigarettes and cheap tobacco carry baggage that when used as the sole reason for moving to RYO/MYO, will ultimately destroy the "real" tobacco industry, and those who enjoy great tobacco will lose any reasonable access to it. And, as most know by now, our concern is for the often ill-defined differences between the "cigarette" industry and the "tobacco" industry. We have never encouraged readers to smoke and we have been highly aggressive in our belief that if one chooses to smoke, use the best tobacco you can buy and use it sparingly - like a good wine.
What has taken so long to put this issue together lies mostly in the domain of the rapidly changing regulatory and political situation that engulfs tobacco. While most of the regulations we now have and will speak of supposedly were aimed at cigarettes, most all of them, for various special interest group reasons, have landed squarely on the back of the rolling tobacco industry as well. Before we begin what may be a rather disconcerting journey for some, we want to make it clear that this page will outline the problems and some of the reasons for them. In the Editorial section you will find our best extrapolations of both solutions and what, in the very near future, given some intelligent and logical application of easily instituted possibilities, the rolling/make your own industry could look like in the future. You'll notice that we refrain from using the phrase "Stuff Your Own" It sounds egregiously ignorant and the acronym SYO is even worse than MYO. We even had a contest you can read about in the Review Section that addressed our efforts to come up with a better descriptor of all that Make Your Own is and can be. Basically, "Custom Made Cigarettes", whereby those who truly enjoy tobacco, have absolute control over the content of their smokes. There is no shortage of new products in this issue but most of them have arrived rather late in the context of the originally intended date of this issue. We wanted to have a chance to evaluate all of them extensively before passing the information on to our readers. So again, there's a lot to see in this issue. So why is this cover piece so long overdue? Read it and you'll see why.
Before proceeding, we STRONGLY recommend the two books shown at above left and at right. The book "Tobacco" is an incredible treatise on perhaps the most controversial plant ever to grace the planet. More on it is in the Tobacco section but it is a must read for all in order to put the current tobacco controversy in striking historical perspective. Crichton's "State of Fear" is a definitive look at what drives nearly all things intrusive into our personal lives including the anti-tobacco movement. While its plot focuses on the junk science of "Global Warming", its principles applies to anti-tobacco strategies as well. The point is not whether Global Warming is occurring. The point is that it is big business as is anti-tobacco, and frankly the profits generated from "managing" these two "threats" are not only enormous (Trillions of dollars), but these profits are the sole reason for the existence of these organized purveyors of doom. Global Warming may be a fact, but there is no profit in it being a natural earth cycle. The big profit arises if it can be blamed on entities with deep pockets - like manufacturers, the energy industry, or SUV makers. I'm frankly a bit surprised some bright bulb with some financial angle hasn't already accused smokers of contributing to excess so called Greenhouse gases as well. We need to look at reality, not rhetoric. There is even research out there that is showing that trees, and vegetation in general, produce a lot of methane (a major greenhouse gas) along with the much welcomed oxygen. There have been many warming and cooling cycles that have impacted the earth for many hundreds of millions of years. Global Warming alarmists fail to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the current condition is solely man-made. We agree that the benchmark for "reasonable doubt" should be relatively low considering the global consequences if man actually were to have sole responsibility and control over this phenomena. Even such a lowered threshold has not been reached. An example of how dumb these protagonists are and how dumb (or gullible) they assume the general public to be can be found in the film, "The Day After Tomorrow." There the lead character has a paleo-climate model that needs to be called into use to help understand and predict the further progression of the sudden climate change that is devastating the earth's populations. In a speech at a global warming conference near the beginning of the film, as well as several other times in the film, when explaining the efficacy of his model, he stresses it is based on a paleo-climatological event that happened 10,000 years ago. Obviously he is admitting quite early in the film that such a dramatic climate change happened well before humans were capable of the pollution that he blames for the current crisis. Both critics and advocates of the film seem to have missed this vital point. It speaks, as well, to the core of the anti-tobacco movement's excuse for their excesses. And that is the differences between a casual relationship, a causal relationship (click here for a decent though somewhat circular look at this favorite term of the Epidemiologist), and a directly attributable definitively sole cause. The first is a weak possible relationship, the second only a little stronger possibility that a thing may likely be a factor in a given outcome, and the third is, by definition, the ONLY cause. Jumping off a 100 foot cliff onto rocks is logically the sole cause of a death, whether the person smoked or not. All but the last are merely today's version of Mammoth Flatulence.
Read Steve Milloy's column linked below to see just how silly and dangerous this kind of narrow thinking can become, especially when it attempts to lay blame for situations that may have entirely different causes, some of which may be just as preventable by simpler means. I must repeat that the science is still not conclusive as to the "cause" of what appears, at least, to be a climatic change. Perhaps Al Gore is right. Perhaps it is human intervention even though it has happened frequently before humans could have been the cause. It's not that the theory itself is the culprit. Intelligent and creative humans and the science that results from such beings are an essential part of our own evolution. The problem is not with the creative or inventive pure scientists. The problem is how those not qualified to interpret the science choose to use parts of any scientific theory as a launching pad for their own agenda which is almost always profit motivated. Again, read another Milloy article at the link here. You will be amazed and probably not too hard pressed to see how certain groups may be able to profit enormously if what you read about comes to pass. A hint - think "chemical companies" that make fertilizer.
Now if global warming opportunists could prove that humans and their machines were the only cause of global warming, or even the leading causality, we would be well advised to listen and change our behavior, and you can bet strict laws to assist us in doing so would be quickly forthcoming and widely accepted. However, since historically the Earth has expressed this global warming (disease if you follow the analogy) before and well before the machinery of humans, one must take great care in accessing responsibility lest we overlook perhaps other more important factors and waste a lot of resources (money) following a literally dead end trail. Read Steven Milloy's (Junskscience.com) latest in a long line of criticisms involving the huge cost of the Kyoto treaty and the tiny amount of impact this multi-billion (eventually multi-Trillion dollar) boondoggle is estimated and even admitted to eventually have. Click here for the article and note the archives at the immediate right on the page you will be taken to. Read all the articles on various subjects. They contain vital information regarding all kinds of pseudo-science scams. In fact. make www.junkscience.com one of your bookmarks. What you will find there is what we've been telling readers for years about the highly profitable business of pseudo-scientific fear mongering. The article on the Kyoto Anniversary is shocking to the extreme and it appears now (the Kyoto Treaty) to have been predominantly an experiment to see if humanity could be coerced to support the high profit geo-political science of environmental activism, no matter how weak the actual science behind any of it may be. Yes, we have been poor stewards of our planet, but we need real solutions, not imaginary ones that enormously profit the very few and wind up accomplishing little or nothing other than the redistribution of wealth from the producers of the world to the non-productive, and puritanical nannies.
Much in the same context, were tobacco to be PROVEN to be the sole cause of all the diseases it is blamed for, the public health establishment (which is often a job creation service for those who lack the skills to do anything else truly useful for the health of humankind and make money at it) would be howling to make tobacco illegal, just like any other proven dangerously toxic substance. (A bit below you will see what that establishment feels about completely banning tobacco.) And their accomplices, the anti-smoking, pharmaceutical, legal, and lobbying interests of all involved would have no choice but to join in the eradication efforts. But again, their unidirectional frenzy over tobacco creates the risk of overlooking something perhaps far more dangerous in our environment. The American Cancer Society has no "cures" for cancer and conventional medicine understands the parameters of the disease only a little better than it did 50 years ago. But where's the money/profit in an, as of yet, unknown cause? One would have to spend money to find that unknown factor, not extort it from a single sector of the population, and they would have to use the money on the project, not on everything but. In reality, if tobacco were banned, none of these groups would have income or jobs afterwards unless, of course, they could find another cash cow to rape. And the fact is they already have. Obesity. As mentioned, below is look at a piece of legislation attempted in North Dakota a while back. Read it and then reconsider the true aims of public health departments, the anti-tobacco coalitions, including ACS, AHA and so-called other disease "prevention" organizations and, of course, the pharmaceuticals and other interests that fund them and profit even more from them simultaneously
It is an interesting fact that during the great Black Plague in the middle of the last millenium, the equivalent of the public health system (circa 1400-1600s) decided that rats were the cause of this plague that was initially killing a few hundreds of Europeans. Their brightly narrow and "quick fix" solution was to exterminate all the rats. By doing so the FLEAS, that were the true carriers of the plague, were forced to find a new host other than the rats. The fleas selected humans, which resulted ultimately in the deaths of as many as an estimated hundred million people. Politically, these health bureaucrats had much to gain from finding a fast solution - someone or something to blame - and who likes rats anyway - or smokers for that matter. Heroes they would be in the same way justice officials, from investigators to DAs make political hay by quickly solving crimes (front page stuff) even if only to find later they hung the wrong man (page eight news at best). The medieval (interesting word 'mid-'evil) solution (killing the rats) let loose the plague and magnified the tragedy exponentially. If we apply the highly "flexible" (to be kind) techniques of epidemiology using terms like casual, causal, and cause, we would wind up with something like this. For a time the rats were thought to be the cause of the plague. However even if this were true, the actual cause of death was a pneumonia like illness. More specifically, the respiratory system shut down along with a very high fever. Like the cliff jumper above, the actual cause of any death is either cessation of brain function (which is still debated re: Schiavo) or the heart stops. Whatever the reason for this to happen, the actual cause of death is one of those two things.
This is further demonstrated in homicide forensics by the examiner's (coroner) preoccupation with specifics. For instance if a body is found dead in the water but has a bullet hole in it, it is always the job of the forensic pathologist to determine if the dead person died before or after entering the water. This is highly relevant to future prosecution of the case and to the penalty the guilty party will receive. It is too bad that epidemiologists who make up these inane statistics about everything that has a financial benefit to some public health group (remember the 400,000 obesity related deaths reported by the CDC just last year that was subsequently downgraded at least three times, arriving finally at a little over 23,000) don't do the work of pathologists to find out what is really killing people. Further down you will hear Dr Ronald Natale in the Larry King interview state that "we really don't know how cancer kills or how tobacco smoke causes cancer." Natale goes on to say that the organs of those who die from cancer are often in quite good shape. The forensic pathologist, if they were involved in these studies, would likely find many possible reasons for the person's death and smoking would be absolutely a casual association at best. No doubt people do die in part because they smoke. Natale mentions one out of eight smokers get cancer (mostly lung cancer, which by inference leaves out all the other forms of cancer that tobacco is blamed for). A true causal (as opposed to casual) relationship according to an epidemiologist would require all smokers to get lung cancer. Therefore by the very fact that all smokers DON'T get sick, even causality must be defined as a rather weak association. Now I've studied quite a bit of the research done on lab animals regarding carcinogens. To be classified as a carcinogen, a substance must cause a tumor in a lab animal, mostly rats and mice. Even the most carcinogenic compound tested don't cause these tumors in ALL of the subjects and each research project differs as to how many of a group must be so afflicted to satisfy the pre-determined "test results" they seek.
The anti-tobacco, public health establishment endangers us in the same way that the "plague" medicos did 600 years ago. They focus on tobacco only and search no further for what may be the real cause of cancer (or even what cancer really is, in its widely varying forms) or any other pernicious human ailments for that matter to a degree that will prove beyond a doubt the other or actual causes. Those other causes have no money to conveniently extract (heard that before, but it bears repeating). And this lack of intelligent use of existing scientific tools, preferring the weak science of statistical analysis (Epidemiology) is causing the same knee jerk reaction with the Avian (Bird) flu you've heard so much about lately. Rather than find ways to manage or actually kill the pathogen (the virus) or even better, create immunity from all viruses, they are simply killing the birds. Now viruses are not unlike fleas. They both need hosts. They are parasites. And eradicating one host will only lead to the the viruses' search for another. And viruses are MUCH better at this than are fleas. They can change symbiotic sources in a matter of a couple of days. In the world of virology, it's referred to as MUTATION but it is really adaptation. And the "science" of mutation is understood (or at least appreciated) hardly better than 500 years ago, at least in its overall ramifications. Better isolate but leave some of the birds alive and figure out how to kill the virus without killing the host - certainly before you, at minimum, know the degree of risk of viral host upgrading. Ultimately, when one talks about organisms being good at finding new hosts, one must only look to the anti-everything litigation movement for a perfect example. Too bad a vaccine has not been developed to combat this group of parasites.
Look at it this way. The American Cancer Society and other such groups (with the possible exception of NCI - the National Cancer Institute, that actually HAS done some cutting edge science on the possible viral and genetic components of cancer) with its many billions of dollars has come up with no solution to any cancers other than early diagnosis, surgery (based on early diagnosis), radiation (oh yeah, can you say further mutation and new cancers), and drugs (financial windfalls of epic proportions for pharmaceuticals even though the Chemo is often so toxic, it can kill you almost as fast as the original cancer). All highly profitable, short term exercises for certain groups of businesses (including non-profits) with really no need to be successful to the degree that any other normal product producer must. After all, the victim is already dying from cancer - right? The medical related profits (and costs) continue to soar. Of course, the main focus of late, the prohibitionist activity, (in other words things NOT to do rather than any positive activity) has its own, hugely profitable rewards as well - rewards that feed the other four regimen groups quite nicely and justify more revenue gathering through increased taxes and lawsuits. Public Health professionals (hah professionals - the third oldest profession - witch doctors - after hookers and spiritual leaders - before even lawyers) and publicly/privately funded non-profits like the Cancer Society and the Lung Association, who pay their leaders enormous salaries, and are required to spend only 5% of all money they've amassed on their missions, have everything to gain from maintaining the problem. The non-profit racket (no overstatement is possible here) is finally getting some well deserved criminal attention as is the Loyal Order of Money Grubbing Scum Bag Lobbyists (LOMGSBL). There aren't enough jails to hold them all if it would come to that.
Now even with all the money involved aside for a moment, we emphasize once again the sheer folly and danger of making presumptions as to disease causation. For years we've been emphasizing the difference between Tobacco and Cigarettes. They are two different things. One is a natural substance, the other a chemically formulated, artificial product. Even more important perhaps is what is used in the growing and manufacture of tobacco and especially in products that cigarette makers heavily use like reconstituted tobacco sheet. Tobacco has been around a long time. It has been both friend and foe to humans intermittently through out its history. (Read the book mentioned above "Tobacco" - please). Even the American Cancer Society concedes that lung cancer was relatively rare before the birth of manufactured cigarettes. They attributed this solely to the fact that manufactured cigarettes made it easier for people to smoke. Nonetheless, it should be clear that even before the first manufactured cigarette was produced, a lot of people used tobacco. That is clearly why cigarette companies emerged, to satisfy and enhance an existing market. Like the poor scientific methodology of the Great Plague era, these so called charitable health groups have trouble with facts because they fail to look for real facts. Instead they look for a single villain, one with deep pockets, ignoring all alternatives and nuances that make up the real world of threat analysis. They use the terms tobacco and cigarettes interchangeably, a practice we've been trying to clarify and change since our first publication. Many in the scientific community understand that pesticides and other garbage that finds its way into cigarettes may likely be a much more strident culprit than the tobacco plant itself. Now there is no doubt that most tobacco, for reasons of crop yield, has been exposed to pesticides of one kind or another, natural or not. Check out the following link here. It keeps moving around on the ACS site so if it becomes inactive, go to the American Cancer Society site and search for "risk factors for lung cancer."
Radon, which is a naturally occurring gas (from natural uranium decay) in our environment has long been linked to lung cancer. To what degree is still uncertain and since there is little profit in more definitive assessments, (except for the proliferating radon intervention companies which, like the asbestos irradication attempts of a decade or more ago, often prove to make the problem worse not better), Radon is given minor consideration. That may be a serious mistake, as serious as blaming tobacco seemingly for all the ills of mankind. The simple solution as to Radon (for which there are already maps provided by satellite imaging - for maps by state and for the US in total, click here) would be to see how the lung cancer rate that is attributed to smokers is geographically distributed and then compare that to each area's naturally occurring Radon levels. Unfortunately, there is little profit potential in simple solutions and the fact that Radon and Smoking may explain why certain people get lung cancer and others don't would fly in the face of the pseudo-science that generates obscenely large profits for the anti-smoking establishment. Again, there is no one to sue over radon - it occurs naturally.
For now let's just look at the following provided on the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website regarding Radon. Also on that site you can find maps (again click here) of Radon distribution in the US and begin to wonder (as do we) how many of the high radon areas have larger rates of lung cancer that are now solely attributed to cigarette smoking. What is most interesting about what follows is the admission from the EPA as to the methodology of risk assessment for both Radon and how it applies to the same statistical models that were used to invent tobacco and health data. If you look hard enough in this world you will find contradictions to everything that public health claims. You don't have to read between the lines or read from sites that are at odds with the public health community. Again this is from the EPA and you can begin to access the entire wealth of information by clicking here and scroll to the top of the page the link takes you. This (below) is only an excerpt from a very robust site on Radon and risk assessment so make sure you read the entire page this link takes you to.
After reading the above, pay particular note to a statement found on the American Cancer Societies site (see the ACS link just above the beginning of this Radon section) and see how it differs dramatically from the EPA information. The ACS site states:
The Shelby Amendment
The Shelby Amendment, which we've discussed in previous issues, was created to provide a watchdog element on supposedly scientific research that results in regulations and laws. Click here for a short overview and above for greater detail of the Amendment itself and why it is so vital this Amendment be enforced. The research community does not like this Amendment to the Freedom of Information Act. They whine that it implies that we don't trust them. Well . . . .I don't . . .especially when their findings have not only been proven wrong, in some cases long after regulations and litigation based on their findings have already done their damage, but most importantly, when the researchers themselves have vested financial interests in the outcomes of a given "research" project. Drug companies, the FDA, and the EPA are especially unhappy about Shelby which should be all the reason you need to encourage its rigorous enforcement. When drug companies push the efficacy of certain "cessation" drugs, these same drugs can become the basis for regulations. How? Well, for example, with the new drug varenicline, touted by its maker to be more effective than previous smoking cessation drugs, the anti-tobacco movement immediately jumps on this as both a source of revenue for themselves (which often comes from the drug maker itself in return for the anti-smoking group recommending its use), and as yet another reason to push the idea that smoking is hard to kick, and therefore should be taxed even more heavily and regulated even more aggressively. People who have been smoking moderate amounts of real tobacco have almost no problem quitting if they really want to. Even those addicted to packaged cigarettes can quit if they really want to. People are not as weak as the public health community, or the pharmaceutical industry, would have them believe and the constant dogma about how hard it is to quit, is counter-productive for those who wish to quit.
The problem with most smokers is that they really don't want to quit. They enjoy the experience. It is often, for many, much more of a recreational pleasure than a chemical dependency, again at least for those who've used moderate amounts of real tobacco. Even Pfizer's (the manufacturer of Chantix - the commercial name for varenicline) "research studies" show that on average 22% of smokers quit for the one year trial while 18% of those given Zyban (the other non-nicotine cessation drug) were able to quit. In the same tests, about 10% given placebos were able to quit. While these numbers may seem significant to some, they are provided with absolutely no contextual look into the the lives and personalities of the subjects. Were the 10 % who quit with placebo only therapy stronger willed than the other groups? Did the placebo effect have any relationship with those that were actually given the "real stuff". These kinds of questions are what the Shelby Amendment is intended to address. If it is not obvious yet to you why we need oversight, keep in mind that most of what folks hear about prescription drugs is fed to them by the drug companies themselves. Journalists have become lazy. AP and UPI reporters (stringers) now basically provide press releases fed to them by representatives of pharma companies. For instance, the AP story that first appeared in most newspapers, big and small, regarding varenicline (Chantix) was as follows: "Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, is a critical public health imperative that takes an extraordinary toll on health care systems. In the United States alone, the cost of treating smoking-related diseases is an estimated $150 billion a year," said Karen Katen, Pfizer vice chairman and president, Pfizer Human Health. "The priority review designation for Champix underscores the significant patient need for new therapies that will reduce the health burden of smoking." No reporter, in any story I could find, went further than the press release, not even to ask Katen questions on the specific results of medical trials. As far as I'm concerned, those AP and UPI stringers are no more than mouthpieces for the pharmaceutical industry. They are not even close to being journalists.
If you search online for "Nicorette Gum" you will find a large number of sites, especially forums, that in large part stress that the addiction created by these nicotine replacement products is quite problematic. Do these newer non-nicotine cessation products have side effects? You bet they do and they are often more severe than the minor cravings one might face when one is dedicated to quitting. And these drugs - all of them - are really expensive, high profit items for drug makers. None of these questions are asked or answered in drug research studies and there is really no oversight in the FDA hearing process that approve a drug for use. As you will see if you read the FDA hearing documents regarding IRESSA that we highlight further down, FDA hearings have no counter argument provided by anyone. The FDA listens to representatives of the drug companies, to researchers employed by the drug companies, and to a handful of patients who claim to have been helped by the drug in question. Read the document on FDA IRESSA hearings. We provide the link here as well to this complete transcript of the proceedings. It's long but highly instructive as to the weakness of the FDA process, most especially when drugs are given a fast track approval based on how badly society needs a drug (in most cases the "fast track" seemingly has more to do with the size of the pharmaceutical company offering the drug).
Not all drug companies are monsters and all drug companies have many times provided needed help to those who suffer. What we want to note regarding them is that the temptation from the huge profits derived from drug manufacturing is overwhelming for even those of high moral fiber. Where there is high profit, there must be oversight, especially when some the profits are used to create legislation that makes the use of the product nearly a requirement to the eye of the consumer. This the Shelby Amendment addresses but unfortunately, to date, there have been almost no reported uses of the power of this amendment. Read more on the www.cato.org website regarding this and other interesting attempts to "oversee" all kinds of political/economic/legislative/environmental/public health and non-profit boondoggles.
The MSA (Master Settlement Agreement)
The American Legacy Foundation, (set up by NAAG, the Attorneys General's National Association that forged the 46 state Master Settlement Agreement, as part of that Agreement), has well over a Billion dollars in its kitty. Yet it pleads for more funding while spending a mere 130 million per year on its mission including salaries and percs. Its CEO, Cheryl Healton, a couple of years ago took out a near million dollar personal mortgage loan, secured by the Foundation, for a home. In fact, it would be in your best interest to go to the American Legacy site (www.americanlegacy.org) and under the link "About Us" look at their financial statements. You simply MUST do this if you want the knowledge necessary to cast intelligent votes in the future for those that state they are unwilling to further support this growing scandal. The personal loan mentioned above is at Note J (about page 14 under "loan to officer" - the page numbers appear in Acrobat as you scroll the right side slider button down) and just above that is an incredibly generous life insurance policy that is paid for by the foundation but owned ultimately by CEO Healton. The current financials (2005), to save you time, can be found at: http://americanlegacy.org/americanlegacy_file_persistence/auditied_FS_summary.pdf . The previous year's financial statement, where they received their last large payment from the Tobacco Settlement (about $300,000,000), which they received ever year from 1999 to 2003 can be found by clicking the link for 2004/2003 financials (again after you go to the About Us /Financials link). Reading these documents may take a little effort on your part but you will find many interesting things there they've done with all that money, including lots of vehicles, and a ton of investing (both here and abroad) to maintain/increase their financial power. Those who are adept at understand accounting should let us know their opinions of what they see there. However, even the layperson will see things there that have little to do with their mission - which is ostensibly to curtail Youth Smoking, which is once again on the rise even with all the money spent so far to intervene.
Read through the whole thing. Remember all the amounts are in thousands (i.e., if it says 28,000 it means 28,000,000). After these people got their initial 300 million from the first MSA payment in 1999, they began investing it, here and all over the world. The interest they receive alone on these massive investments is often greater than the amount they spend on the programs they are chartered to support. In fact over 8 Billion dollars in investment transactions were conducted. No doubt their financial advisor fees of over $3 million per year were justified. The numbers are huge and complex as is the financial document itself. You can hide a lot in a large and complicated space. They spend (again) over $3 million per year on financial investment advice alone. You would be well advised to see where your MSA tobacco settlement money is going - so read it. You'll need Acrobat Reader to read the PDFs.
In all fairness, we do compliment this organization for at least supplying this information on their site as, for most non-profits' financial disclosures, one must contact the IRS or walk into the non-profit's office to get their form 990 to obtain this information. The 990s are more detailed as to specific salaries and other items and anyone can request and get them. If you do it through the mail with the IRS, you have to pay a small fee and there are redactions - if you walk in their front door, they must give it to you free of charge, or for a small copying fee and the information is more complete. You will also find that even though this organization was initially well funded (again $250 Million the first year and $300,000,000 of your tobacco money for the next four years - an expense that the pertinent cigarette companies simply passed on to the smoker), they still found it necessary to take out two $30 million loans and another $20 million loan a bit later to fund "expenses" Why? Because they put most of the initial money in various-term investments or property. The fact that the lawyers at NAAG are supposedly overseeing this operation, leaves me with little confidence in their oversight even though two of its members always sit on the Legacy board. Currently, they get about $40 million per year from tobacco. You can see the section of the MSA Agreement where the funding for this organization is outlined at this link. Click here. You will also see that they (all benefactors and participants of the MSA) had a very specific mission and certain restrictions on attacking the tobacco industry. Many lawsuits have evolved from the latter. In Acrobat PDF files the pages of interest as to this Foundation, (which has had several names including the Nation Education Foundation, the Master Settlement Agreement Foundation and ultimately the American Legacy Foundation) are pages 32-38 as numbered in the document itself. However in Acrobat they are 42-48 (some pages that are indexes and tables of contents are not numbered in the original document, but Acrobat counts them anyway). On page 33 of the actual document is the heading Establishment of a National Foundation. This is your starting point.
And here, using Oregon's fairly current regulatory attempts as an example, is the same kind of data that was used by the various 46 states to justify the lawsuits that resulted in the eventual MSA settlement. You can find much more information on this state specific legislation and the number's game employed by clicking here. Part of the page/section is reproduced below. Note that this link is to the State of Oregon's DHS - Department of Human Services, (in other words the Public Health Department) website. Public money was spent to put it up and the law it supports is a legislative activity not one that the voters had any say in. It is representative of the kinds of tactics (number gymnastics) used over the many years by the states in order to justify their portion of the MSA money and to justify their prohibitionist policies, which in the end serve ultimately to justify their revenue raising by taxes and lawsuits. Look at the numbers below and realize that most of the so called costs of smoking to the state, even if one were to believe that the numbers themselves were anything other than extrapolated (modeled - refer to the section above regarding "Radon Studies" for more on modeling for profit) and skewed data, clearly shows that the state itself admits to spending $350 million in direct medical expenditures (not the $1.5 Billion in the headline) and even that number includes federal money, the percentage of which they conveniently leave out. As you can see MOST of the estimated cost, (again the word "estimated" leaves a LOT of wiggle room with, it seems, no verification required) was borne by insurance and cost paid by individuals and most telling, even the bulk of that cost estimate was based on such nebulous statistical forays as "Indirect costs of lost productivity due to illness", and "Indirect costs due to premature deaths", the latter being the largest slice of the pie. Both are clearly "estimates" with absolutely no real data possible to support such claims. These are precisely the kinds of "estimated" numbers that the states were using to sue the large cigarette manufacturers that resulted in the MSA settlement. These numbers remain the excuse for the states NOT to spend the bulk of revenues extracted from smokers since the 1998 MSA Settlement on anything remotely related to Tobacco Intervention or health care for those who may claim damage from smoking (packaged cigarettes). The states continue to emphasize their need to "pay back" all of the past lost revenue due to smoking related health care rather than use the money for current programs. At the bottom (the last line) of this little exercise in creative accounting is the disclaimer (if you will) that these numbers were from the CDC. Now, the CDC did no specific studies in any one state. The states used the CDC numbers (which even today remain controversial to the extreme) and divided them up according to population. It is these kinds of unsupported, non-scientific generalizations that continue to feed the anti-tobacco movement. It is extremely well fed with your dollars and with neither your permission, nor with any hope of you receiving any direct benefit from the money extracted. We have little sympathy for the big cigarette industry as you must have realized while reading these pages over the years. However as we will continue to explore, there is a great deal of difference between processed tobacco by products such as used in packaged cigarettes and real tobacco. Even more to the point, the burning of ANY natural plant substance, just like real tobacco, produces pretty much the same chemicals, sans nicotine. So for the effort highlighted below to have any credibility whatsoever, the term "Tobacco Use" should be replaced by "Packaged Cigarette Use." Again more on that later. Here is the pitch for the "Workplace Law." Two underlined words, can and economic, are worthy of note.
So the bottom line of the above is that less than 20% of these so called costs to Oregon were paid by Oregon with an undefined portion of even that borne by the federal government. The costs of lost work days and premature deaths are the worst kind of irresponsible extrapolations with absolutely no data to support the assessments. Further, they state second hand smoke CAN (not does) cause illness, and the fact that this scheme focuses completely on "economic" cost and not on the general welfare of humans is most telling. Remember, I do not like smoking indoors and I don't like smoky environments. I do insist however that businesses have the right to exclude non-smokers every bit as aggressively as establishments exclude smokers.
The MSA and all of its ramifications present a true tragedy for American democracy and free capitalism. Regardless of the questionable practices of the cigarette industry, this agreement has provided little to address the problem and has encouraged local, state and federal governments to become more addicted to tobacco than smoker's themselves. Most everyone in this country is unhappy with the inefficiencies and corruption associated with this settlement (except, of course, for those who are getting rich from it). Congress insisted on tracking the MSA, tasking the GAO (General Accounting Office) to do so. Click on the following link to venture to a PDF provided by the Government Accounting Office, GAO, that Congress demanded be published showing how the states have been and are using their respective share of the MSA funds. In some cases, the states have actually used the money for tobacco (cigarettes again) intervention programs. In most cases, the state's records in this matter are poor indeed. In fact many of the state's have already borrowed on their future MSA shares to the max and all future revenues are being used to simply payback these MSA secured loans. Much like the worker who goes to the "Cash Connection" to borrow against next week's paycheck. Again, this linked document (click here) is a fairly long read but if you don't thoroughly explore this stuff, you will never have the whole picture of just how large the problem is and how little control even your elected government has (or wishes to exert) over these kinds of coerced programs.
Non-profits, in total, are among the biggest businesses in this country - and the best paying for those that control them (other than certain trial lawyer firms that get very rich suing companies for alleged social and business related wrongdoing - it is important to note here that the fees these law firms get are enormous - like the 2 Billion dollars one firm got for helping litigate the MSA settlement and another that got over a Billion). Of course, the real dog work of these non-profits is done by volunteers, both generous of heart, and armed only with dogma lacking any concrete scientific information. Their CEOs are literally in a class akin to Royalty whereby, unlike top tax paying industry CEOs, whose salaries are frequently attacked, they have a federal tax code guaranteed advantage and they are tough to pin down for performance evaluations as their missions are NEVER intended to be accomplished. People just give them money (or are forced to through taxation) and all those donors have extremely limited control over where that money goes. Keep in mind that all tax free (non-profits) are again, required by law, an expenditure of only 5% of their take be applied to their mission. Even targeted donations have an expiration date if not spent on the "target." More worrisome is that there is no requirement for them to succeed in their mission. Private sector businesses and even most politicians can't get away with that lack of performance for very long. So they justify their existence by making a lot of noise about all the things they do. Looking only at two subjects - natural disasters and disease, it is apparent that these non-profits are abject failures. However in the business of wealth generation (for themselves), they are amazingly proficient. Want more? For Instance . . . .
The head (CEO) of the Oregon State's Goodwill for PORTLAND AREA Chapter ONLY pulled down over $800,000 per year until enough people found out about it and complained. It is now down to around $650,000. The head of American Cancer Society nearly 3/4 of a million per year. The numbers are staggering. The Red Cross more than 1/2 million per year + percs (which nearly doubles that) for its revolving door CEOs who keep getting "replaced" for "political" reasons. With literally Trillions of dollars in funds and endowments, the non-profit industry and ensuing scandal that is waiting to detonate regarding them, will be of unprecedented proportions, and the problem has grown exponentially since the non-profit industry got involved in the tobacco issue. You can bet when that cash cow is finally dry, they will find new cattle - fast food, SUVs, sugar treats, soft drinks, and yes, we speculate soon, caffeine (look out Starbucks - you've got temptingly deep pockets AND, your lattes are fattening AND doctors for a long time have urged their patients to go easy on the coffee and caffeine, which has recently been classified as an addicting substance).
This new wave of extortion in the name of the public good has already started and now includes new hiring and employment practices that insist on controlling the personal behavior of employees, even in the sanctity of their own homes. You as tobacco users have had the dubious honor of paying for a whole lot of it initially, but be aware that ultimately every person in this country, who has a passion for anything that a handful of people may not appreciate, will be attacked. The core idea of non-profit charitable organizations is a laudable one. The execution has been an alarmingly under-regulated, under-scrutinized and in general, an enormously costly failure when defined by the actual positive accomplishments they can honestly claim. The only solution is an all-out war on these institutions, a war that will make their war on tobacco seem amicable by comparison. If we lose this war, this country and its citizens will eventually live under a tyranny even more destructive than those enforced at gunpoint. The all pervasive tyranny of the mindless, the irresponsible, and the hopeless.
So before we look at the bad news and worse case scenarios, which are frankly fact already, or likely to happen very soon unless serious intervention is undertaken by all concerned citizens, we need to show you the true face of the enemies of freedom - of those parasites that drive the vehicles of corruption, and of those who are their dupes. And let it be made clear here that we've as much contempt for the dupes as we have for those whose corruptions nurture and co-opt their weak minds and principles. It is not our intent to dial into and spread the very state of fear we reject as a motivating force. Anger and refusal to comply, and then action is not fear, it is indeed the inherent human right of self interest. We continue to implore our readership that the ONLY solution lies in individual positive activism consolidated ultimately into positive group action. That is the only path to regaining control of not just tobacco use but all related issues that threaten to control our most personal behavior and completely undermine the concept of personal responsibility. We will begin with examples of the kind of unidirectional thinking as well as the self-serving hypocrisy that has been at the forefront of the anti-tobacco movement from the beginning. It applies to future intrusive attempts by those few who would exercise control over the many. We will follow with a few examples of the foregoing with the proposed and soon to be instituted new regulations on your rights to acquire tobacco. Its not a pretty story and when you're finished reading, keep in mind that we (a lot of folks in and out of government) are not yet at the point of definitively uncovering the whole scandal. We won't stop until we do, but for now here's some interesting information - a look at the real face of the antagonist(s) of this story. It really comes down to this. One should not judge a person based on who they are or what they are, or most especially who or what they SAY they are. People and organizations should be judged by their actions alone. It's as simple as that and is the only reliable measure of a human being or a group. And no matter how grandiose their public statements on what they believe or the weight of their background or credentials, it is what they do and have done that is pertinent. In the same way, organizations cannot and should not be judged by their "mission" statements. No matter how altruistic their stated goals may be, it is their actions that speak most loudly and accurately. And the following couple of absolutely documented activities and discourses illuminate actions on behalf of the participants. You don't have to take anyone's word for their motives. What they say and do is more than revealing enough and is part of the public record.
As with any good story one must begin with both protagonist and antagonist. Here, for plot's sake, obviously the patrons of the MYO/RYO industry is the protagonist as a free and unitary being, (perhaps smokers in general but the MYO/RYO methodology we find far more defensible than merely the act of smoking) while the antagonists are numerous. Since life is never black and white, there will be, we feel, a lot of common ground established potentially between this industry (or any movements its existence generates), its proponents and those that are seemingly against it at this moment. This is personal for me in the context that I don't equate packaged cigarette smoking with tobacco usage. This is a narrative of what has gone on for the last few years, much of which we have written about, some of which is new information even for us. We will find allies among other "libertarians" whose enjoyment of the "seasonings" of life will eventually be challenged as well. We'll start with a news article that should well begin to illuminate (brightly) the true intentions of some of those who claim to be most opposed to the very existence of tobacco. Go get your reading glasses. The print is of necessity small for reasons of space. Please note the text we've outlined in red is felt to be most pertinent and disturbing. From the Grand Forks Herald, Jan 1, 2003, Grand Forks, North Dakota:
DAKOTA LEGISLATURE: Tobacco ban gets lit up in House
Note: As mentioned before, we used small print and will continue to do so with all of the reference articles in this section. Get your reading glasses if you must. There is so much here, that space will not permit larger type to fit efficiently. So . . . let's analyze what you've just read. First, it seems that the anti-tobacco groups, who were highly instrumental in killing this bill, believe that tobacco bans would not be effective and at least one member felt a ban would drive tobacco use underground. Now I ask you, what is the difference in a partial ban, which is precisely what higher taxes and regulation on smoking is, and a total ban. Both would seem to have a similar effect, the partial ban (tax) perhaps less so but still an analogous effect. In other words, as far as consumption, these anti-smoking groups, all well established, self-appointed protectors of the health of everybody, made it clear that banning tobacco may not reduce its use - at all. This is a fair representation of their statements, I think, perhaps even understated. They also bemoaned that they would lose all the revenue they live on (anti-tobacco once again is a very BIG business) and all of their cessation programs would suffer. I ask simply, "If there were no tobacco to be smoked, why would their cessation programs be needed at all?" What we have here is a clear example of the dichotomy operated under by the entire anti-smoking movement, whose very existence (and paychecks) rely on tobacco taxes (and other taxpayer funded government programs), donations from dupes, and, of course, lawsuits. These organizations are clearly as "hooked on tobacco" as the members of the legislature whom the bill's sponsor admonished - for being just that.
Grosz, the sponsor of the bill, also made reference to two other points that need examining. First, even though tobacco is "claimed" to kill 1,000 North Dakotans per year (no idea where the actual figures comes from - that's right, you've heard it above) the self proclaimed watchdogs seem ambivalent to the proportions of that presumed tragedy. More striking yet, using his figures once again, even as the state brings in $39.7 Million per year in tax revenues from tobacco, his figures show that the state purportedly loses $351 Million in medical and lost productivity costs. That's nearly ten times more than the revenue they take in. A very poor business model to anyone with a 3rd grade education or a $5 calculator. Even if they were to raise the taxes to the level the governor wants, the shortfall would still be well over $200 Million per year, again assuming any of the figures above (other than the revenue the state actually takes in) have any basis in reality whatsoever. The truth is that the figures the states throw out as far as cost related to smoking are pure BS and always have been. You can never pin any state official down to where they get their figures (they are in fact pure extrapolations) or whether they include costs paid by insurance companies for covered workers or by residents personally. In fact, were told they do, which means that in more than a majority of cases (however many that may really be), the states don't pay a thing for smokers who get sick. Nonetheless, they add the cost to the total (again that total being highly suspect to begin with) and of course they apply all illnesses to anyone who admits they smoke, regardless if smoking were a minor, major or no cause at all to the distress of the patient. We already went through this above but some things seem to need to be repeated in order to get the required attention. The other side certainly uses this tactic in compliance with the theory of "say something long enough and loud enough, and it will eventually become fact." The very idea that the vast majority of the costs that states claim are based on (as quoted above)"Indirect costs of lost productivity due to illness", and "Indirect costs due to premature deaths" is so offensive to the thinking human that only people with an intent to profit could embrace such mythology.
This kind of sheer fiscal nonsense is being played out nationwide and frankly worldwide, from local level smoking bans to the Federal attempts at Internet Tobacco control (more on this as well). This nonsense includes statements by ACS and others that smoking bans don't hurt businesses such as bars and private clubs. In nearly every case, those who actually own these establishments disagree vigorously, to the point that the latest restrictive law passed in Washington state that would ban all tobacco use in all venues (other than "conveniently" Indian tribe lands and casinos) has already generated new proposed amended legislation that allows a business to disregard the ban if their revenue dips 10% or more. The amendment failed its first test but continues to be pursued. It is interesting to note here that while I typed the preliminary version of this, suddenly on national news appeared a piece that downsized the CDC's estimate of the impact of obesity on folks from 400,000 deaths per year (a strangely familiar number) to 120,000. Currently the estimate is now down to less than 30,000. Suddenly and recently that figure is back up. Come on America. Wake up. None of these numbers have ANY basis in reality. They are at best, made up, non-rigorous and highly convenient extrapolations for the purpose of fund raising or lawsuits, and the time has come for those that use them, to be audited for source and accuracy and aggressively prosecuted for blatant fraud. All one has to do is look at the CDC mortality tables we keep posted on the Editorial page to realize there simply "ain't enough bodies" to go around for support of these estimates, especially for those under 65 of age.
In fact these, along with other "facts" that have permeated the debate on tobacco (not cigarettes - again they are processed tobacco products that use some really nasty chemicals in their processing) are rampant in our society. On almost every subject there exist myths that have been propagated to not only enhance special interestagendas, but even more so to enhance their "special interest" pocket books. There are many writers and researchers out there dispelling these myths. Steve Milloy (www.junkscience.com) is frequently used here as a respected example of such seekers of truth. There is even a Discovery Channel program "Myth Busters" that deals with some of the more innocuous myths - such as what really happens when you put metal in a microwave, but even more to the point is a new book by John Stossel of ABC News (shown above left) that really brings home the point that our entire society (and the larger world for that matter) are more susceptible to sheer superstitious myth than ever before. Why, because it is more profitable than ever before. We should all take part of the blame and shame for allowing such manipulations by special interest groups of every stripe whether it is the CDC or WHO (World Health Organization - a UN hitman). Read the book. Read all the books we recommend. You will grow a well rounded shell of skepticism that will help protect you from the sheer enormity of BS we face every day - whether it be from media or from government, and most especially from so-called health activists who could give a good damn about your health. They want your money folks and control over your life in order to keep getting it - that is the bottom line! As in the title of the above book and from the Firesign Theater's (for those old enough to remember that great wacky comic ensemble) classic album of the 70s (available on CD now) literally nearly "Everything You Know is Wrong." And as with all the books we recommend, if they are not available in paperback, don't be afraid to own a hardback copy. They are a little more expensive but trust me, you will keep these books and re-read them many times for many years to come! And share them with your friends. A great way to spread the word of healthy, intelligent, and logical skepticism.
Next, as to the health risks of smoking, do not make the mistake that smoking will have no impact on your health: While we are once again, NOT proponents of smoking, we do feel people have the right to at least enjoy the practice privately assuming whatever risk they, after studying all of the literature out there carefully, shall deem likely, and without absurd taxation that funds everything BUT smoking related programs. We are certain the paltry existing, purported scientifically rigorous research data (sans Epidemiology which is based entirely on widely variable and suspicious statistics) has been skewed, confused, misunderstood, or down-right lied about. Further, the fact that the government (and private groups) are collecting revenue based on what they consider a poisonous substance, seems to have been missed as a clear violation of the trust we are expected to place in these entities. We've said it many times before. If tobacco is that dangerous, it should be outlawed like any other toxic substance. It should not be a source of profit for the very same folks who claim it to be a killer. Think of it this way. How would the populace react if the government allowed victims with AIDS to have unprotected sex with others as long as they paid a tax so they could? Not much different is it?
Here's yet another link that you will find interesting. In fact, in this issue there are many and, once again, if you really want to know the depth of the scandal that is brewing you need to read everything you can. This linked page concerns the dichotomy of cigarettes versus real tobacco. It is yet another piece of the puzzle that allows certain elements in our society to confuse the real issue - that being package cigarette regulation and litigation or tobacco regulation and litigation. In fact, we'll repeat a link to an even longer dissertation by Bill Drake on the same subject. The two links are below - the first is much shorter than the second. Bookmark and read them in sections if necessary - but read them. You'd better know what you are smoking and you'd better understand that even in rolling tobaccos, cheap may not wind up being so cheap.
OK! You've heard it all here before, but let's now look at some interesting dialogue from transcripts taken from a Larry King Live show on the subject of smoking. These transcripts are available on the CNN site. We'll save you some time, but we urge you to read each related transcript in its entirety (there is an index of topics going back a number of years at the first link below). Now King is an avid anti-smoker who smoked 3 packs a day for many, many years. He's 70 now. And again he smoked manufactured cigarettes. He had a heart attack a while back and tends to completely relate his condition to smoking. The fact that he was extremely overweight (Larry used to be a really "big" guy) and the epitome of the A Type personality does not seem to figure in to his own assessments as to the cause of his prior malady. However much we respect King for some of the things he's done, he is either a dupe or corrupted. His various shows on the subject pander to the anti-tobacco activists and often result in embarrassing moments when doctors can't agree on what it is about smoking the harms some people. I clearly remember in a prior show from a couple of years ago his asking a noted cardiologist how cigarette smoke harms the heart. The cardiologist replies were nearly incoherent and wound up with "we don't really know", followed by, "well it can cause a stroke." King changed the subject immediately. I also remember (perhaps the same show) him asking actor Kirk Douglas if he thought his stroke had anything to do with smoking. Douglas replied to the red faced King that he hadn't smoked for over 20 years prior to his stroke. We choose here to use the precise words from one of his shows that should make for interesting reading, enough at least to stimulate our readers to view the entire transcript. The following are excerpts from conversation regarding smoking on one of his shows. The full transcripts of all shows from 2000 to Current are at the following link. We'll explore other pertinent ones next time:
The first show we'll look at is a fairly recent one from April 5, 2005, the day that Peter Jennings announced he had lung cancer. Jennings, a heavy smoker (several packs per day - up to five early on) for many years, quit 20 years ago and the announcement of his condition obviously prompted the subject of this particular episode of LKL. There are several panelists in whose statements we are interested. It is not our intention to defame or denigrate any of the following people. They each have their own stories, triumphs and tragedies, and other human baggage that we all carry. Their statements that follow are meant to illuminate the various factors, misconceptions, and mystery involving the tragic disease that is lung cancer. There is little doubt in our mindthat cigarette smoking (especially abusive amounts) carries some serious health baggage for some. However does the risk rise to the level to justify the extortion of hundreds of billions of dollars from smokers who will see little of that money vested in any programs that will actually mitigate, to any degree, any health risks that are present? And, again, remember cigarettes are one thing and tobacco is yet another. The differences in usage behavior and dose are striking for most MYO enthusiasts. One other thing that happened not long after this show was the announcement by Christopher Reeves' (Superman) widow, Dana, that she had lung Cancer. Dana Reeves was a life-long non-smoker. The news media went crazy over this as Chris' last nine years of life as a paraplegic due to a riding accident (let's ban horseback riding) was a model of hope for many with paralyzing ailments. They also went crazy over the fact that Dana was a non-smoker - for precisely one day. Within two days, the fluffy blonde anchor (certainly no journalist by any stretch of the imagination) Paula Zahn, made the following statement in a report saying, "Dana Reeves has been diagnosed with lung cancer", followed with no pause by the statement "you can find out more about the effects of smoking and lung cancer at CNN.com." CNN is Larry King's agenda laden launch pad as well. The point is Zahn never again mentioned that Dana was a never smoker - ever again - in any of her news reports on Dana that I saw over the next few weeks. This kind of reporting is shameless and its tendency to leave out pertinent facts is pervasive in every network or cable news broadcast system. So dialogues like the one that follows have enough time to be pretty revealing both in what is said and what King fails to ask as follow up. We do that for him in red. The link to the specific show follows but we have below laid out the pertinent dialogue below. And one last thing before we begin - both Dana and Peter died within a few weeks of undergoing chemotherapy. I will always wonder how long they may have lived with no such toxic treatment.
The "cast" includes, Lori, the widow of Morton Downey, Jr., (the well known talk show host who died several years ago of lung cancer and who was an avid PRO Smoker Rights Activist up until the time he got cancer and then became an avid and paid anti-smoking advocate, though, according to Lori, he continued to smoke). Next is Tammy Faye Messner (remembered forever as the former evangelical partner of Jim Baker, who went to prison for wrong doings regarding church funds - just think raccoon eye makeup - she is the most frequent guest on Kings show, a fact that completely amazes me about King's perception of who his audience is,. Following her is Alan Landers, "The (former) Winston Man", (a two time survivor of lung cancer who began smoking at age 9 and smoked 5 packs per day and who has a huge lawsuit against tobacco companies pending) and finally Dr. Ronald Natale MD, (an oncologist at Cedar Sinai Hospital in LA who heads major lung cancer research projects and testifies before various FDA drug approval hearings on behalf of Chemo and other cancer related products he's tested for Pharmaceutical companies - he's involved in a lot more than that as you'll see). We'll examine a few of each panelist's statements and make comments after each of their utterings. While these are excerpts, they are not conveniently edited to make a point. These are direct quotes, though abbreviated and are provided so that you will experience what we experienced as we watched the show. My personal comments in red, are again, the follow up questions I would have asked were I sitting next to Larry or other points I feel are cogent to the discussion that were overlooked or are important to note. Full context is available, again, at the specific transcript link above and we urge you to read the entire transcript for the appropriate date. One last thing before we start. I hate doing this. I hate calling attention to the tragedy of others. Lung Cancer is poorly understood and is a rabid killer once you get it. I have all the empathy in the world for the victims and suggest you take the possible negatives of smoking seriously, even if the true correlation between "tobacco and health" MAY be exaggerated for the benefit of the greedy. One last thing before we start: In every Larry King show I've seen on the ills of smoking, he uses the dynamic duo of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Though we don't use it in its entirety here, it is in the complete transcript. What we note on this is the fact these "Odd Couple" characters were/are in real life quite similar as to how they live(d). Tony was a complete health nut, practically a vegetarian who exercised daily, and took great pride in eliminating smoking from the sets on which he worked. He even claims to have perhaps been a partial founder of the non-smoking environmental movement in the oft used (by King) video clip. It goes like this - King to Randall:
KING: Because you were the most
anti-smoking person that I knew.
Ok fine, I don't allow smoking in my audio or video studios. It can gum up the electronics. I don't like it anywhere indoors - that's me. Nonetheless the point is that Tony died a couple of years ago at the age of 84. He died from a respiratory infection from complications after what was essentially bypass surgery. Now how the hell does a true health advocate (in both diet, exercise, and smoking) need a bypass procedure? Today the raucous Jack Klugman is 84. That's right - the heavy drinking, fat eating, cigar and cigarette smoking, no exercise, walking health risk that was Klugman's character and nearly identical to his real life persona is still around and kicking. The point is that these two could not have had more divergent attitudes towards health and Klugman survives while Randall does not. Logically there must be more to health and longevity than the public health people will ever admit. Take the food pyramid defined horrible eating habits, little exercise, smoking, and mix it with happiness and low anxiety personality type (the type that spends little time worrying about what others may do or enjoy) and you may have a formula for longevity that works far better than the strident, missionary, evangelistic and uptight anxiety ridden prohibitionist approach. George Burns lived to be over 100 even with a steady diet of cigars and who knows what else. Again extrapolations and predictions are nearly useless when it come to human mortality. Put more directly "Everything the Public Health Community Knows May be Wrong." So now the King show transcript with again the most pertinent comments in red.
First, Lori Downey: After a brief video clip showing Morton poignantly, and I feel honestly (in his mind) sharing his experience with tobacco and lung cancer, (remembering of course the high voltage lifestyle that Morton was famous for) Larry turns to Lori Downey and says:
Next Larry asks Dr Ronald Natale, the esteemed oncologist (cancer doctor) (I use the word esteemed as he has, in his multi-decade practice helped a lot of folks with lung cancer to ease the suffering - but cures - no) - the following question:
A little later (King tends to ramble with his lines of questions so, though this next part occurs a bit later, we bump it up to here because it relates to the previous question. Larry asks the following:
Now two other links that should prove entertaining as a break before we continue. The first is a disclaimer page from LungCancer.org. This is basically a PR firm that rallies support with materials regarding smoking and lung cancer. You will see in this disclaimer that they absolve themselves of any responsibility for accuracy or to stand behind any of the so called "facts" they publish for the benefit of the public health lobbyists. The second link is to a page that discusses the strange coincidence of actors, including John Wayne who died from lung cancer (which was blamed entirely even back then on his smoking habits) after working on a film in the deserts near nuclear (not nuculear GW) test sites. Both pages are required reading as stated before to get the whole picture.
Before we continue with Dr. Natale and drug companies, we thought it prudent to show you what he said to King regarding cigars"
We will finish this issue's cover with a couple more interesting things we uncovered during our research over the last year. To say what you've seen so far is small in comparison to the volume of material we've collected during that time is an understatement of epic proportions. The fact is there are at least 400 pages of material of this length in the can. I can only guess that it will someday be a book. Certainly all the writing and documentation is done. Time will tell. However, those most juicy tidbits that we've shared in this issue would be incomplete without this last item. It is a study in the sheer audacity of the non-profit/anti-tobacco/pharmaceutical/governmental/public health coalition. These groups, having bled hundreds of billions of dollars from smokers with little to show for it, had the added nerve to sue Philip Morris under the umbrella of the RICO statutes for another 280 Billion dollars. The document heading below can be found by searching, but it is three hundred pages of some of the most inane legal arguments I have ever seen. I would not recommend its reading to even the most bored of legal scholars. This case was thrown out on the grounds that RICO penalties did not apply, and the extravagant monetary awards were reduced to a limit of $10 Billion. However, money aside, it is the Appellees in this case that are most disturbing. The US Government teamed up with the Pharmaceutical industry, armed with reams of testimony for non-profit anti-tobacco groups and public health departments to try to get the Court of Appeals to allow the former $280 Billion amount to be used as a set sum at a lower court level decision before a verdict was even reached. When you find this document, you will see that the opinion written by the judge throwing this out was one of surprising insight and courage. Even so, the fact that the Pharmaceutical industry was suing the very companies they do business with for their nicotine replacement products is so absurd that it is difficult to write about with a straight finger. Read Forces.org's Norm Kjono's column regarding this case. The following link has both his comments and a direct link to the complete decision. Again, it is frustratingly long but if you want a detailed look at the collusion between the aforementioned groups, this really nails it. The Clinton administration started this but Bush's Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has taken it up with full permission from his boss. For those of you who think Republicans are on the side of honesty and freedom, think again. This travesty is supported by both parties. Now do you finally believe me when I tell you it is TIME for a new party, one that respects the rights of business and individuals over incredibly powerful special interest groups. Sure Big Cigarette companies are special interest groups as well, but they didn't get that way by suing people. They produced a product that could be freely chosen to use. It is a lousy product and should not be confused with real tobacco, but the fact that these Appellees were asking for even more money, after the MSA already was shown to have been money wasted on everything but tobacco intervention, demonstrates that this coalition has gone over the edge of sanity. Again, read Norm's treatise on this and if you can stand the pain, the whole decision. This is not over yet. The parasites will never give up until they are put completely out of business. Here's the link:
And finally we again urge you to read Stephen Baxter's book, Evolution. This piece of docu-fiction has fascinating insights into those parts of each of us that have not changed since the first living creature appeared on earth. The give and take of survival and the absolute necessity of controlling one's own destiny as well as the fragility of the species and the durability of the planet. It is perhaps the most interesting piece of scientific extrapolation I've ever read. And it is a fun read as well. Do yourself a favor and explore with Baxter what has been, what might have been, and what could be. You won't be sorry. Enjoy - the Ed
Our greatest hope at this 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 supporting, 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 of varying degrees for varying groups of people. 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 as universally credible.
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, as well as all punitive damages collected on behalf of US citizens by all local, state, and federal litigations against tobacco, other than those funds already allocated that are needed to satisfy current regulation and enforcement, be applied to five (5) areas of investigation and compensation exclusively. These areas are:
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 foreseeably 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.
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. Certainly less so than poor diet and lack of exercise. 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 smokers already, attracting more current smokers to an environment where quitting is far easier and moderation is a fact, seems a worthy enterprise.
Since our first issue of January 2000, RYO Magazine has presented information on the very best in RYO/MYO products employing an honest, positive approach. Weve resisted doing negative reviews as we feel that those who have the courage to create new products, sometimes need a little time to refine them. We give each of them that chance.
The magazine has also followed the various regulatory changes and consistently commented on what we feel is a truly dangerous trend in American society, as well as in many societies worldwide. That trend is one of increasing governmental control over many of the facets of life once considered private behavior. With litigation and governmental intrusion at these already dangerous levels, it is our belief that only an aggressively motivated electorate can reverse the tide of these trends. Our lawmakers have allowed the increasing power of non-profit, pseudo scientific research, and financially motivated, public health organizations to flourish. These organizations once had perhaps a valid mission in our society, but any positives they may have initially contributed have turned to clear attempts to remake our civilization in their own narrow image. It is no longer just about tobacco. The time is fast approaching when every aspect of personal choice and behavior will be confronted by these puritanical tyrants. The critical concept of personal responsibility is being eroded by our civil justice system to a degree that will eventually lead to outright anarchy or, even worse, outright subservience.
We urge you to read the magazine and educate yourself aggressively in the methodology of reforming both our political system and the legal system that feeds the pure avarice that drives most of these institutions. As verifiable scientific truth and honesty in reporting are the enemies of these organizations, so too is an active and focused public, one endowed with the energetic, independent, and free intellect that graced the founders of our nation. On every subject one can think of, these new dictators WILL control your lives to a degree never thought possible in a democracy.
Organizations like NATO have a chance at intervening to some degree, but the real responsibility lies with every American to stand up, with unrivaled determination, for the rights of others. The loss of freedom for one group means the eventual loss of freedom for all. Taxation, litigation, and deception are the munitions of this new, all intrusive invader, and our best defense is common sense and our insistence in demanding accuracy and full disclosure of all aspects of the so called FACTS that influence regulatory and political actions. We wish, for each of us, the freedom to choose our own unique life path. This does not come cheap! Its time to decide whos to pay the price. We urge extreme activism against all present and future attacks on intellectual and personal freedoms. ~ Doug Kennedy, Editor RYO MagazineThe world of RYO, specifically Roll Your Own has remained surprisingly consistent for many generations. Yes, there are new papers and new rolling tobaccos as well as products, once available here, that are no longer imported into the US. Still, because of the rather static nature and demographic of those who are willing to hand roll their own smokes, the other world, the world of MYO or Make Your Own, is a much more dynamic proposition. It is this sector that has experienced tremendous growth in the last decade. So in this brochure well focus primarily on MYO. However, all tobaccos used in MYO are indeed rolling tobaccos so, in that context, the importance of the RYO connection to MYO cannot be overstated. These fine 100% pure tobaccos are an integral part of the foundation of MYO. Many packaged smokers have never tasted real leaf tobacco. Chemically enhanced reconstituted tobacco by-products from which commercial cigarettes are made are NOT tobacco.
In addition, the philosophy behind the acronym RYO is one of personal choice. As compelling as any other do-it-yourself activity, there is great reward in deciding which tobacco you want to smoke and in that larger sense, RYO defines what most Americans feel about their right and obligation to freely choose what they consume as well as what they do with their lives. The term RYO is used as a preface in as diverse endeavors as people who hand load their own ammunition, or make their own candles, build their own furniture, or make their own clothing or beer. All of these activities at times now use the acronym RYO, and its use grows daily.
That said, any discussion of the future of MYO must begin with a few premises/perceptions that are in serious need of correcting. First and foremost . .
While it is true that many people do come to MYO from packaged brands because of cost, this has little to do with why they stay there. Moreover, the cost issue will not remain a primary factor in the future. Anyone who has tried the glorious tobaccos available and the highly efficient crankstyle machines to inject these great tobaccos into high quality filtered cigarette tubes, soon realizes they will never return to packaged smokes, no matter the price differential. In the future, this industry must abstain from cost related promotion. First as its popularity grows, MYO may not always be less expensive than cheap manufactured brands and secondly, the very premise of the methodology is the more intelligent and respectful use of tobacco.
As a packaged smoker migrates to MYO, the first thing that becomes clear is the exceptional difference in quality of the smoking experience, soon followed by the realization that this activity need not be a subservient one of mass consumption. It is about flavor, leaf quality, and elegance far more than simply a cheaper way to smoke more cigarettes. This single premise is one that can have far reaching effects on the politics of tobacco, while providing those who choose to smoke an approach that can lead to freely chosen enjoyment rather than a highly touted addiction. For tobacco users, this is truly a win-win situation, regardless of price.
Packaged Cigarettes - versus - MYO
For quite some time, those who really understand the MYO concept reject its association with Big Cigarette companies. For too long, the terms "Cigarette Companies" and "Tobacco Companies" have been used interchangeably by the media, the government, and by anti-smoking factions to demonize tobacco itself. When figures are given for the harm "tobacco" causes, they are really related to the damage manufactured Cigarettes reportedly cause. Though this junk-science data is likely wildly inflated for purposes of huge monetary gain, there still is no doubt that a significant difference exists in the contents of a manufactured cigarette and a pure 100% real tobacco MYO stick. It is a difference as great as that which exists between natural home cooked cuisine and highly processed foods. And it is essential that these differences are highlighted in every way possible to those who choose to smoke.
No scientifically rigorous health data has been gathered regarding MYO users. That will come and we envision a future where clear differences can be demonstrated between the effects on humans of "real" tobacco use when compared with premade cigarette consumption. Therefore the time has not yet arrived when claims of a healthier smoking experience are responsible or wise. Nonetheless, we have countless thousands of readers who have experienced a dramatic change in their smoking behavior, most especially lowered consumption, and in their assessment of any negative impact smoking is having on their lives. I guess the simplest way to put it is that even with all the extra chemicals found in packaged cigarettes (many of which are directly related to the use of reconstituted tobacco), no one single element has ever been identified as THE specific culprit in those smokers who have health problems related to cigarette smoking. As you will read in other parts of this magazine, when we discuss medical issues, it is a fact that a large portion of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer for instance, are smokers. However turning to the other side of the coin of these statistics, only about one in eight people who smoke get sick. There are many ways to look at statistics and the tragedy of so called scientific research on smoking and health is that it involves mostly suspect accounting procedures rather than any strenuous truly scientific medical research. The reasons for this is simple. The bad news generates billions of dollars, any honest, balanced, or truly revealing answers would leave the non-profit and government agencies without the funding they are so addicted to. More on that later here and on the cover of this issue.
The Changes Coming
A lot more detail on all of the innovations already being introduced into this industry will be put here (on this page) after the 2006 NATO show. For those details, we suggest you return to and read this section of RYO Magazine, after April 10th, 2006. We CAN say with great confidence that in no time in history have so many outstanding tobaccos existed such as those produced by Peter Stokkebye, D&R Tobacco, and many others. Again we are talking about "real" 100% tobacco not cigarettes with "recon". In the same way, serious injectors like the Supermatic and Excel, are now joined by Republics Top-O-Matic to provide the consumer with an ease of making their own smokes never possible before. New, even more dynamic, efficient, and less industrial looking injectors are already at the final design stage and will be available as soon as late this year. However no matter how easy the injection process continues to be, just because you can make 'em fast does not mean you should ever smoke 'em fast, or in great quantities. As we've stated throughout this publication, those who would come to MYO in order to "afford" to be able to smoke four packs a day, are fools. Consumption is directly related to risk and a great many of those who have celebrity status who suffer from lung cancer that we hear about so often as "poster children" for anti-smoking, were HEAVY smokers. Four or Five packs per day of manufactured cigarettes. So even with improved injectors, sip your fine tobaccos - don't gulp them. For Christ's sake, use your head.
Perhaps the single most innovative changes will come in tube design. The VeraCruz® Nocturne started the ball rolling with its luxurious design and natural brown cigarette paper elegance. A new manufacturer has emerged, StVincentUSA, headed by Mike Ang here in the US, which is dedicated to exceptional custom private label, designer quality tubes, that push the envelope in both materials and design innovation. These innovations include longer 20mm filter elements, higher density filters, and custom appointments that take them beyond the realm of the often too generic look of many MYO tubes. D&R Tobacco and HBI have already pulled the trigger on these upgraded offerings in their product lines and many more are waiting to do so. StVincent is also gearing up for longer, slimmer 100+mms, more colors, and even flavored tubes. Republic Tobacco has created an impressive new plant in Canada, the TOP Tube Company, with the venerable Stephane David (of CTC fame) returning to this industry as its president. The future is bright indeed with all the components falling in place to significantly increase and enhance the footprint and image of MYO for a world still dominated by packaged brands. Very good news indeed - for all. However you must do your part as both outlined at the beginning of this article, and by following sensible usage behavior, just like one must do with certain foods. I love hamburgers. A great burger is perhaps my single most favorite entree. But a good burger to me is one that has a lot of lettuce and tomato on it, onions and other things that are basically the components of a good salad. And I don't eat burgers for ever meal or even one every day. As the Moody Blues once wrote, its a "Question of Balance."
More Things To Come
There is so much change going on politically regarding tobacco that one must read newspapers and use other sources of information daily to keep up. Our cover page is already to some degree outdated politically but the sense of the direction things are going is still very clear. Internet sales of tobacco continue to be attacked. The primary reason for this is the states getting their money which they are entitled to because you voted for those that pass the tax laws. You can discount the issue of underaged people getting rolling tobacco - it is pure fantasy. MYO has no attraction to young people. Their very act of rebellion for smoking illegally necessitates their having a brand named cigarette pack to flaunt. To them its a badge of honor, or as noted, a symbol of rebellion. That is why the current effort to "scare" kids from smoking appears to be backfiring. Tell a young person that something is dangerous and many of them will be enticed to try it. We've seen it with such stupidly outrageous behavior such as inhaling bug spray and paint fumes. The growth of the X-Games and other extremely high risk behavior/sports should make it clear that young people fear almost nothing - except perhaps being viewed by the peers as being "chicken." Fortunately the generality does not apply to all youth. There are a lot of smart ones out there who have a bit longer view of their existence. Nonetheless scare tactics don't work. Good science will, but it has to be of the order of respect that fosters serious attention, not shrill threats.
The fact is the problem with Internet sales of tobacco (again not cigarettes which are stamped and easily identified as contraband) truly lies in the fact the states have trouble collecting their revenue. This is not the fault of the Internet seller in most cases. It is the fault of the states whose bureaucracy is so inefficient that a simple plan to collect tobacco revenue from Internet sellers is still unworkable. For the same reason that the Internet sales tax is still, for all intents and purposes, languishing in the "moratorium" status, the states and the federal government are simply not good at simple logical strategies or solutions. While certain credit card companies and shipping companies have put restrictions on participating in tobacco sales and distribution, the US mail is still available. All the states would have to do is create a reporting scenario that retailers could easily abide by and participate in. The states have a constitutional right to levy taxes as does the federal government. However the framers of the constitution seemed to emphasize that such taxes be fair and equitable, which should imply a certain uniformity and certainly easy compliance.
The Internet sales tax is stalled until such a uniform tax can be agreed upon. Similarly a uniform tax on tobacco products (other than cigarettes) should be quite easy to implement. This would avoid all the accounting nightmares encountered by both legal/licensed distributors that vary wildly from state to state, and those who wish to participate but simply cannot cope with the plethora of variations on what should be a simple theme. If tobacco is to remain legal for sale on the internet (or by mail order) directly to consumers, retailers basically would need a system of reporting and collecting a uniform tax based on their customer's location. And then periodically (quarterly - certainly not monthly) pay each state the revenue due using simple forms and a transparent communication pipeline with each state. It is not hard to envision this, and even with states having insanely different tax structures, online retailers could have a separate shopping cart checkout page for each state. The customer starts by logging in with their zip code. Basically opening an account like this would make it quite easy to verify age as well.
Now some online retailers will say that this won't work as it will raise their prices so that they cannot compete with local brick and mortar stores. While this may be true in a few cases, the overall picture is much more revealing. That is that most people buy online because of variety not price. Too few local tobacco stores, and especially those entities who are self described as Tobacco Outlets (a glorified name for a discount packaged cigarette store that may have a few RYO/MYO items), carry a decent variety of RYO/MYO products. Online stores usually have huge selections of brands. This scenario will have the effect of making the online retailer legal, getting the states their revenues (until a wiser voting population realizes that the dangers in discriminatory taxation schemes for one product will eventually spill over to all product sectors), and at the same time encourage local shops to carry a broader selection of products in this category. Another win-win solution for everyone, especially the consumer which is what free trade should be about. Again the states have the right to do a lot of things but in reality, the whim of the people is who they serve. And when your favorite coffee place or favorite liquor store, your favorite automobile, or your favorite burger joint begins to see the taxation nanny that results from the social engineering goals of the prohibitionists among us, all Hell is going to break loose.
We mention on the Cover page a situation in North Dakota where the legislature tried to make tobacco illegal to possess and found itself confronted aggressively by the entire anti-tobacco establishment. Read it. It is not surprising to me at all. More recently Utah has undertaken to make tobacco a illegal substance. There is little if any chance of it working even in that "as-weird-as-South Park" state. Government, public health departments, pharmaceutical companies, and anti-tobacco non-profits are far more hooked on tobacco than even the most dastardly of cigarette abusers. Our country is currently experiencing an onslaught of government excesses. Even during the Prohibitionist movement of the early 1900s which led to Prohibition (the 18th Amendment 1919) any real fiscal profit motive of the prohibitionist was absent. This was a moral thing and though as unctuous to a democracy as any attempts to constrain the personal and private behavior of the individual are, greed had little to do with it. The subsequent criminal behavior caused by Prohibition (Al Capone and Organized Crime as big business in general) was definitely about money. Thirteen years later (1933) the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment, leaving it to the discretion of each state how to handle alcohol delivery and consumption. Now many people think that Prohibition's end meant liquor was no longer prohibited. However the fact is, Section II of the 21st Amendment makes it clear repeal only returned power over alcohol to an individual state level decision. While no states stuck with complete prohibition, some did become "dry" states of varying degrees where alcohol is limited to state owned stores or other such nuances. Buying hard liquor (other than beer or wine) in some of these states at least is not possible in general merchandise stores. The point of all of this history is that our constitution is not as enabling a document as some may assume. It give a LOT of power to the states and basically is as concerned about infringements on each state's authority as it is about individual freedom. As far as I am concerned, the Declaration of Independence is a far more powerful statement of the right (no obligation) of redress by individuals against either the state or the federal government. They serve at our pleasure and we best not forget that.
So today we have laws like the recent Eminent Domain law upheld by the Supreme Court on behalf of local jurisdiction's rights. In other words the Supreme Court allowed these local governments to decide the particulars of eminent domain, which of course they took to the extreme. The decision basically gave a victory for cities, when a divided Supreme Court concluded that local governments have the authority to seize private land and turn the property over to private developers for economic development. ... officials can use their "eminent domain" power to condemn homes and declare Eminent Domain for not just the public welfare petitioned by government agencies but allowed property to by taken (with compensation which is a very wiggly exercise in creative accounting) even for the benefit of private companies. In response, in the good old American tradition, a group filed an eminent domain litigation against Justice David Souter's farm. In fact this group has been getting traction. The Supreme court decision is really unpopular with a lot of elected representatives who fear their re-election success. Many states have already passed laws countering the Supreme Court ruling's effect. Basically in the decision, KELO v New London CT, said that New London, Conn., could seize homeowners' property to develop a hotel, convention center, office space and condominiums next to Pfizer Inc.'s new research headquarters. Pfizer hmmm. Big Pharma strikes again. Now the city argued that tax revenues and new jobs from the development would benefit the public. The Pfizer complex was built, but seven homeowners challenged the rest of the development in court. The Supreme Court's ruling against them prompted many states, including New Hampshire, to examine their eminent domain laws. This battle is just beginning with some elected officials who have vested interests in these confiscations pushing the limit of the Court ruling. Again many of the states are backing down with legislation to counteract the ruling. One quote from a local New Hampshire Rep is particularly amusing. He states in defense of the Souter property "reclamation" that "this as an act of revenge and an improper attack on the judicial system," "You don't go after a judge personally because you disagree with his judgments." Frankly, I personally think that is exactly what a citizen's obligations is to do. If a watch dog don't watch, get one that will. Unfortunately, many judges are there for a long time but recalls and impeachments are always possible at all levels. The people must obey the law until they can change it using the accepted process and the voting booth. Anything else is anarchy, however constituents are rarely the cause of anarchy, and in history one man's anarchist, is another man's freedom fighter. There are simple ways to fix many problems and simplification should be the goal in all endeavors.
If you think I'm being an alarmist, here's another recent one: from AP - "When President Bush renewed the revised USA Patriot Act on March 9, Congress added oversight measures intended to keep the federal government from abusing the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize documents. The additional provisions require law enforcement officials to safeguard all Americans' civil liberties and mandate that the Justice Department keep closer track of how often and in what situations the FBI could use the new powers, and that the administration regularly provide the information to Congress. However, it was not known at the time that the White House added an addendum stating that the president didn't need to adhere to requirements that he inform members of Congress about how the FBI was using the Patriot Act's expanded police powers. After the bill-signing ceremony, the White House discretely issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law. In the statement, Bush said he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act's powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties." In doing so, it appears the president once again cited his constitutional authority to bypass the law under certain circumstances. "
This kind of behavior is becoming all too commonplace at every level of government. Once a freedom is lost it is almost never regained. Even with terrorism a primary factor in some of this, I trust neither political party to give a damn about my rights or yours. They will get away with whatever we let them. The same situation exists with anti-tobacco legislation. It is simply one of many precursors to rule by tyrant. Here's a line from the Declaration of Independence. In its 18th century verbiage it has to do with King George (no not Bush) but I think you will get the analogy. Hancock speaks to us from long ago, a past that is increasingly less dim.
For the future, just remember that we do have control over our immediate world. The loss of freedom of one group or even one innocent individual is the loss of freedom for all, even if it is just a little piece at a time. We encourage the states to simplify their taxation strategies such that compliance will be accomplished and we further encourage even the most strident anti-smoker to realize that while I firmly believe that they have no obligation to breathe cigarette smoke silently, and smokers have no right to expose them to it, there are principals that can be set forth to allow each to have their own space. In the longer view of things, both groups will be better served by exercising both respect and tolerance for others and creating solutions that are fair to both.
One last thing I want to mention before we're off to NATO is that those who are looking for alternatives to tobacco are in for a treat. We've looked before at herbal blends and for the most part found them lacking. A new company (to us) approached us recently on an entirely different issue and after solving the details of their initial inquiry, we found they produced herbal blends. They sent me some. This is some special stuff. The packaging is really beautiful and the herbs inside are far more satisfying than any of the herbals we've tried before. You'll hear a lot more about his company in the future and when we get back we'll show you some close-ups. Their banner is below so click on it and enjoy the adventure.
We leave the last two issues Editorials in place below for the time being until we return. Please look at the mortality tables again. They tell an important story. It has a chilly kind of relevance for today.
The coming national election of 2004 is being touted by some as the most important decision we will have to make in our lifetime. Rubbish. No matter who wins, little of true importance will change. Large multinational corporations will continue to be the true base of power. Most people will remain at the mercy of their employers who too often have no interest in them other than as a commodity, to be courted or dumped depending on momentary financial turns. Young men and women will continue to die in wars that old men and women continue to justify and propagate. You know, it is a long repeated diatribe that "if those who encouraged and caused wars were the very ones who had to fight them, war would have been obsolete for a very long time." Well the world has changed somewhat but not all that much. Religious and political fundamentalism has been the foundation of many a bloody undertaking. True we are now fighting individuals, not states, so we have a much harder to hit target, but the operating fact is that fundamentalists of any stripe by nature, are not happy folks. Their desires for narrow, unidirectional thinking and edifices constructed to that end, will never be satisfied because humans disagree and humans as a successful species, thrive on diversity.
The fact is, fundamentalist doctrine is as alive and destructively well in the U.S as it is an any other part of the world. It takes many forms but at its core is the same inability to let others live and believe as they will. Both Bush and Kerry are of the same brotherhood. They are politicians. As far as I can extrapolate from history, any one who WANTS to be President of the United States should be let nowhere near the White House. That applies to the thousands of lesser entities who inhabit State Houses, Legislatures, and any other organizational body that wants to control the way others enjoy the life experience. It is a further fact that, while most people strongly desire control over their own destiny, most of us want no, or marginal at best, control over our neighbors. And that one fact is likely the greatest qualification for office I can think of. We should draft our representative - kicking and screaming all the way. They would know that soon, after a single brief term, they would have to return to face us, their constituents, and they will be held accountable directly by those that sent them to job they never wanted. Having true control over our own lives implies insulation from the annoying behavior of others. In other words, rules set by the few will never provide the safety, comfort, or well being that most long for. Franklin said "Love thy neighbor but build a good fence." And that is the quandry that drives the human race to conflict.
There never will be a perfect society. No matter who you vote for, most will see little difference in day to day living that you can accurately attribute to your ultimate choice. Certainly, like the young mentioned above, some may be more strongly affected than others, but in general, the rest of us will continue to struggle, succeed and fail, just as all of those who came before. The only true measure of success is that we look forward to getting out of bed each day, that we go the extra mile to make our work and our enjoyment a challenge of ultimate quality. And if any personal behavior that has no impact on others can make that possible, it seems logical that we cherish the right to engage in that behavior above all others. Happiness should not be the goal nor should be satisfaction as these are fleetingly definitive and subjective terms. Excitement for the challenge of living is a concept with far more palpable rewards and the stuff that true freedom thrives on. People who are excited by being alive don't blow themselves and others up. Sure they'll fight for a cause they believe in and will defend themselves and those they care about, be it family, friend, or country, with great alacrity, but few are truly motivated to sacrifice for causes that affect them not, especially when they see those that have sent them into conflict risking nothing. So vote for who you will. More importantly, armed with judiciously acquired personal knowledge, hold those you elect accountable for their subsequent actions. I'm sure those on both sides of the current national political contest, in fact, see flaws in the character of both candidates. You wouldn't know it from watching the conventions, where so much partisan back slapping occurs that one would think these two men are, to each of their constituents, unrivaled examples of higher beings. Rubbish - again. They are politicians. It is irrelevant who they are when compared with what they do. And that pertains to all levels of those you elect to represent your best wishes. Let them know when they over-reach and step on your toes. Let them know, even when they step on the toes of those you disagree with. Let them know that they have specific duties to satisfy you, the voter - to protect your borders, your civilization, even your homes. They are not there to make decisions in those matters that you can handle personally and privately. You have hired them to do things you cannot by yourself accomplish. In all other matters, they (any of them) have no business in your affairs. Happiness, cooperation, getting along with all others - yes, perhaps these concepts are simply not part of the human animal - it does not seem be in our nature. However making one's own life as full and exciting as is possible is contagious and is the kind of pandemic the world desperately needs.
My personal perspective: I strongly resent the way tobacco, a substance that has given pleasure to many hundreds of millions of humans throughout history, is being treated. That's one of the main reasons I toil over this magazine. I resent those that over-indulge in this amazing pleasure and cause themselves ill health and cause the rest of us, who can enjoy it in moderation, to face the threat of its extinction. I resent the cigarette companies who for a time promoted just this kind of mass consumption and in some cases still do. I resent the efforts of those that do not enjoy tobacco, to prevent me from my enjoyment. I like high performance automobiles. I've almost always had at least one. I've never had a speeding ticket. I resent those that drive with no regard for the safety of others and those who are unaware of their limitations in controlling their vehicles at any speed. I resent Volvo's. Not the car but the mentality behind it. To me the best strategy for auto safety is not in surviving crashes but avoiding them altogether, with skill and vehicle handling capabilities to match and by paying attention when driving. I resent kids who drive up and down my street at high speeds. There are plenty of opportunities to briefly enjoy vehicle performance, when highways are deserted, often late at night. There are tracks you can rent if you want to really put the pedal to the metal - if you want to see the scenery really blur. Acting with a mandate of personal responsibility, whether it is picking up your trash or confining your smoke to your self alone, is paramount to a society that will need fewer regulatory intrusions on personal behavior. It is our fault as humans that we have such regulation. We've ostensibly shown the powers that be that we can't do without it and reinforced that belief by failing to put a halt to regulation of things which concern no one but ourselves.. So how do we put it all together and make the puzzle of human cooperation a working proposition. My opinion is simply take full responsibility for your actions, viscerally and with dedication.Respect the rights and safety of others, and, only call the police after there is a body. Relax - its a metaphor - of sorts.
There is more to add in the way of prefacing the following section. Quotations from well thought out prose, especially from long past eras, often give insight to the human condition and, more to the point, humanity's ability to assimilate and dissect the meanings behind day to day occurrences, especially when they involve the control over one group by yet another. The human condition perhaps was never meant to be "happy". It is well accepted by creative people that "satisfaction" is a death sentence to the very inspiration that results in great works of art and great social improvements. Will we ever really get along? Probably not. However it is important to understand that the very evolution of our species was successful because of rocky roads and rough seas not smooth, fertile, unchallenging vistas. Take the stairs or the long way around next time and mull over the following:
"Water does nothing - but penetrates everything. There is a music which underlies all things. We dance to the tunes all our lives, though our living ears never hear the music which guides and moves us. Happiness can kill people as softly as shadows seen in dreams. We must be people (sic humans) first and happy later, lest we live and die in vain." - Cordwainer Smith
"It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers." -H.G. Wells
And finally a personal favorite that lends itself well to the kind of epidemiological extrapolations used by supposed health groups that can find no real world human data to support their claims regarding tobacco and health. "It is alarming that the increase in ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in the US precisely matches the increase of youth participation in the third world sport referred to as Soccer" - The Euripides Center for Understanding Everything
The fact that no matter how intricate and well planned our attempts at sane self regulation are, of everything from questionable business practices to overt criminal behavior, we still seem to be having little luck in devising strategies that work for more than a short specific time, or individual situation. Why is there no "Unified Field Theory" as posed (though not yet proven) by Einstein, but applied to the far less complex social sciences (science of society) as a whole? Why are so many humans content to let others control them, seldom to the benefit of anyone but the controllers (even though the controllees vastly outnumber the controllers)? Why can't we keep our relatively small planetary house clean and orderly, AND progressive? Is it possible that we are all still basically savages whose sole motivations are greed and domination over others. Are we too angry of a species, or have we gotten mad enough? An interesting point of view lies in the following passage regarding the human species.
"Filtered through the slushy fishbowls of their eyes, muffled by the imperfect receptors of their nerves, clouded by the static of their prejudices, the human dimly sees the universe. With meat-ego arrogance, they believe that what they notice through their clogged senses is the only reality. Humans represent a species which now engulfs the Earth in its numbers, from hot jungles to frozen wastelands. The ants have overrun the picnic and, having feasted on the leavings, now eat the table itself. Belching happily on their crumbling plateau, they toast one another for wisdom, restraint, and nobility."
The preceding pejorative is an excerpt from the novel by DA Smith, "Rendezvous", and is related to the reader from the point of view of a near perfect being, endowed with the "advantage" of machine intelligence. Though a work of fiction, this novel deals with the conflict that all of us face when it comes to solutions that address long term challenges. In the machine world, solutions tend to be fixed points which can become the basis for linear improvement of the overall design with little or no chance of regression. As each part is improved, however, the connected parts in line subsequently face the threat of over work. In other words, when within a machine, you strengthen one part, the other parts may not stand up well to the added stress imposed on them by the increased efficiency of the new part. In human terms and looking at civilization as the ultimate human mechanism, new parts are much harder to come by, and even when they are ultimately available, these innovations are lobbied against most stringently by the powers that be - those that most fear change. Our civilization would not exist as such, nor would we as a species ever have left the caves, were it not for machines and continual improvements to them. And improvements mean change. It would seem we have learned little from the elegant designs we humans imparted to the non-sentient tools we've created to ease our path and increase our power. While we have no problem installing a new and perhaps improved part to one of our machines, we have not learned yet how to incorporate truly new ideas quickly and efficiently into the mechanisms of society, even though these ideas are often obvious (to some) solutions that could actually cure existing problems rather than simply prolonging the negative deteriorations our "system" seems to suffer symptomatically.
The tables below are a study in the uniquely human ability for the rationalization of statistical analysis, which we as a "civilized" species too often use to make far reaching decisions. Those that published this table were attempting to show the current level of regulation (taxes) and the statistical use of cigarettes broken down by state, and then figured into a some kind of national average cause and effect relationship. Their agenda was obviously aimed at showing that the more taxes one imposes on tobacco, the less its use. Even a quick glance comparing the ranking of states as to how high their taxes are compared to their ranking, as to percentages of smokers, often shows quite the opposite. Further, the tables cover statistics from 2001 and 2002 so you can compare where states have raised taxes during that period and look at the resulting use, especially among young/underage smokers, who are routinely advertised as the true benefactors of higher revenue schemes. Rather than go into each state, one at a time, I leave it to you to do the comparisons. I'm not a cruel person, but spoon feeding people opinion and pseudo facts is one of the problems this piece deals with. It is what the controllers attempt to do. We desire the control of no human.
Obviously, one of the purposes of this publication is to encourage each of you to become more proactive in the battle against sanctions on increasingly moderate tobacco use. Though nearly the entire case against tobacco, and the subsequent legal issues, regulation, and revenue confiscation, has focused on the big cigarette companies, even moderate, hobbyist enthusiasts of tobacco are affected. Moreover, organizations involved in these battles against individual rights and responsibility have had their way, impeded only by the logic and good sense of SOME legislators and judges who recognize the, at times, very weak sources of information and distortions of many of the so called facts. These organizations are well funded (by your tax dollars in most cases) and their officers are very well compensated. There's is a massive industry that will attack anything with deep pockets regardless of the harm it may cause to innocent bystanders. They are terrorists in the true sense of the word, no different than the eco-terrorist who destroys the private property of companies they see as a threat to the environment, or the terrorist who takes innocent human life for no other reason than they have a different concept of Divinity. We welcome a debate on tobacco under the piercing glare of fact, not innuendo. However, this debate may never happen as so many are afraid to cross these extremely aggressive organizations. Their power MUST be limited by regulation and by litigation. They, and the so called facts they arm themselves with, must be exposed to the transparent light of truth. Let the chips then, fall where they may. All of us will be better for the knowing.
However, if the population of smokers does not become extremely active very soon, a great opportunity to alter or at least steady the course of personal human rights in vast areas yet unimaginable, may be lost, possibly for a very long time. Some of what they (these offenders of individual choice) proselytize, we actually agree with. We believe non-smokers should not be exposed to our smoke, if that be their choice. We also feel that children especially should be protected from ALL forms of pollution, both physical and intellectual, as they have less ability to voice and enforce their defenses. On the cover of this issue remains a scenario for determining the facts on tobacco use and, with minor variations, all other future issues that involve regulation of personal behavior that may have risk. Click here if you wish to review it. But for now . . .
There is a lot to digest in the tables below and thus make some kind of decision based on what you see. We can't do it all for you and you shouldn't want us to anyway. That would put us in the same category as those who create such statistical presumptions. You should look at all the data and decide the intrinsic meaning for yourself.. However, we will look at a few states as an example to get you started.
The recent seven state Democratic primaries, as well as the recent Oregon state referendum on taxes, gives us an interesting perspective, as an addition to what follows, regarding the voter's power to change just about anything they set their minds to. Let's take a look at three states that are a typical example of how this process may be used by tobacco users to regain control of a revenue and regulatory process gone insane. We'll start with the Oklahoma primary and simply throw some real numbers at you based on election results. There are approximately 1,099,000 registered Democrats in Oklahoma which is a state with a Democratic majority, but elects a lot of Republicans. That strange fact alone, we will let you make of what you will. Here's the interesting part. Of those nearly 1.1 million voters who as Democrats were eligible to vote in this primary, only 300,000 actually voted or about 27.3%. Now the state, according to the tables below, has about 737,000 adult smokers. The winner, Clark got only 30% of the vote that was cast or about 90,000 votes, Edwards had nearly the same amount with Kerry placing third with about 81,000. The point is even if you total the top three candidates, the number of votes cast for them is only about 260,000. Now think about it. With 737,000 smokers in the state, it is obvious that a concerted effort to vote for someone who was much more supportive of those who are being robbed by taxation because they smoke, could win any election for any candidate they chose. The numbers are staggering when you look at the power smokers have to influence their own destiny, if only they can be organized to vote in a block.
The second example is the Arizona primary, with 788,000 eligible Democratic voters, only 220,000 actually voted. In both cases (OK and AZ), only about 27% of those eligible to vote in the primary actually showed up to do so. There are 809,000 smokers in this mostly Republican state. Again a voting block of smokers alone could elect any candidate for any local, state or federal office. Now we are not suggesting that this be the only criteria for voting for politicians. However, we think the qualifications of most elected leaders are no better overall than most citizens. In most cases, some of the dumbest sounding people I have ever been exposed to, are politicians. I watch CSPAN a lot and am constantly amazed at the lack of knowledge about a wide range of issues that our elected officials exhibit.
The fact is, even career politicians glean most of their knowledge about issues as diverse as health care, social security, the war on terror, education, budget deficits and international affairs, including trade, from their staff anyway. Staffers are professional coaches, basically, who remain in their consultant-like positions throughout changing administrations and officials. They would always be there to help in getting a newly elected Representative or Senator up to speed with information that person needed on affairs that perhaps were not the freshman politician's forte to start with. That's what they do and current politicians in office are no less dependent on these staff resources than would be a new face. Now many people simply don't want the hassle of a political candidacy, or are not attractive/charismatic enough, have neither the money, nor the oratory skills to make a bid for office. However, it only takes one in every precinct (with your support) who both has a committedly reasonable attitude about tobacco taxation and regulation, and has those skills mentioned above to make a 180 degree difference when it comes to unfair and inefficient tobacco regulation. The are many in every state, at all levels, who could well fit the requirements and who certainly are bright and articulate enough to represent you at all levels of government. This is how the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was passed and, in the same way later repealed. Folks whose beliefs were representative of their electors were sought out and supported. It can be done.
Finally, for this update, let me share with you details of a local vote on a referendum that was put before the voters of Oregon this week. It was basically a ballot measure to increase our income tax to help the state deal with the typical budgetary crisis that most states are experiencing today. The voters, 58% to 42%, voted this measure down, but that is not the point, although it is interesting to note that few tax increase measures pass when they are put to a vote of the taxpayer. What is more interesting here is that Oregon makes it easy to vote. It is all done by mail. You don't have to go anywhere. You only need provide a minimal postage fee (thirty seven cents). The state mails you a ballot and you send it back in, or you can drop it off at a ballot box on election day if you don't want to mail it. Even with this mind numbing simplicity on a measure that would directly and immediately affect every wage earner in the state, only 53% actually sent in their ballots. An interesting set of numbers appears here as does the two percentages noted above in the state primaries where almost EXACTLY the same percentage of registered voters actually voted. Though the response of the voters of Oregon was nearly twice the 27% of the OK and AZ primaries, it is interesting to note that the number of smokers in Oregon is precisely 53% of those that voted. This doesn't mean 53% of Oregonians are smokers. It simply means that 986,000 folks voted out of a possible 1.8 million AND that, according to the tables below 528,000 people here smoke. So the ratio of voters eligible to vote and those that actually voted as well as ratio of the total number of smokers in the state to the number of people who actually voted were both 53%. The final kicker in this proposed income tax hike is that the group of legislators and special interest groups that put it together threw in a 10 cent per pack cigarette tax hike for good measure. It is interesting to note that in the voter pamphlet each registered voter receives that explain the proposed measure, the "in favor of" section where supporters of the Bill have the opportunity to give their reasons for support, dealt, to a very disproportionate degree, with this cigarette tax increase as the main reason for supporting this bill. Groups like the American Cancer Society, Lung Association and several other such organizations who are not supposed to be involved in the legislative process due to their non-profit status were all over the ballot info booklet. The measure was voted down, but it was obvious that this part was thrown in as a rider to garner support from more people, as our legislators seem to think that the mere mention of a cigarette tax will cause a bill to pass. I guess they were wrong in this case, but often this ploy works.
I'm not sure what can be made of the percentage-based coincidence of 53%, but it is interesting, especially if you like to play games with numbers like the statisticians do concerning smoking and health. More of that follows, but what is pertinent here is that, once again, adult, voting age smokers, as a voting block, could have passed or killed this bill at their whim. People who use tobacco have an incredible amount of power if motivated into becoming a voting block. Everyone who smokes HAS to be and frankly, IS seriously upset at the level of taxation on tobacco and the ultimate waste of that revenue on projects that have nothing to do with smoking. As you read what follows, keep this in mind and contemplate the possibilities. And keep this also in mind. There is great power in numbers. I have always been amazed how one gunman can hold 40 people hostage. Sure, everyone has to stick their neck out to some degree in such a situation, but, as with the incident of the hijacked aircraft on 911 that was retaken by the passengers and subsequently crashed into a Pennsylvania field, it is time for people to realize that taking NO action can often result in far worse consequences for everyone. The folks on that plane were hero's, not fools, and I would hope that all Americans, tobacco enthusiasts included, are made of that same admirable stuff. Again to paraphrase Franklin, "those that sacrifice liberty for safety, DESERVE NEITHER." And now . . .
The Original Article Continues . . .
The State of Washington, as shown in the tables has a tax ranking of 4th in the 2001 table and 6th in the 2002 table. This ranking is from one to fifty and represents comparatively the amount of tax on cigarette packs. (The higher the number, the less the tax so Washington state has a very high tax when compared with other states at $1.425 per pack). Now look at the state's ranking as far as percentage of smokers. In 2001, they ranked eleventh and with no tax increase ranked 25th (even worse) in 2002. The smoking percentage rankings at the far left of each table are from one to fifty as well, with the higher number representing the more smokers per capita. As you can see the percentage of smokers went up significantly only a couple of years AFTER the tax was instituted. Their ranking in 2002 as far as taxes was 6th highest and their per capita rating was 25. Now, of course, the figures change each year relatively - as one state's consumption or taxes changes, so does the relative position of other states. Nonetheless, the number of smokers in the state went up by over 100,000 people after people quickly got used to the higher tax. This is hardly a good example of a tax actually cutting consumption. Check out all of the states as each are unique in their reaction to tax changes. Some are in line with the "hoped for" results of the CDC, but many are not.
Looking at the national averages is equally interesting. The 2001 statistics show the overall average state tax on cigarettes at 60 cents per pack with 47 million folks smoking (this and all the numbers we will discuss in a moment). The newer 2002 tables (the bottom set) shows an average of 70 cents per pack tax and the total smoking population as 48 million. To summarize then, by increasing the average tax nationwide by ten cents per pack, another million people started smoking. Hardly a reasonable outcome considering the cost and the waste of revenue. We will at this point leave it to you to speculate what the real agenda is of taxation schemes to limit behavior, but even given this data, provided by anti-tobacco advocates, shows clearly the extra money must be going somewhere besides effective smoking cessation programs.
Two more States of interest: Let's look at Virginia and West Virginia. The latest figures in the table show the tax on cigarettes in Virginia (a tobacco producing state) to be the lowest in the nation at a mere 2.5 cents per pack. West Virginia has a tax twenty+ times that (55 cents). If the theory of taxes decreasing consumption were correct you would think that folks in Virginia would smoke at a greater rate per capita than those in West Virginia. The opposite is the case. West Virginia has a smoking rate of 28.2% while low tax Virginia has a lower usage rate of 22.5%. The year 2001 shows slightly different rates but in the same direction with a similar spread. Now some anti-smoking groups might try to sell you on the idea that the smokers of West Virginia are crossing the border to Virginia to get cheap cigarettes. However, since these data sets, as we will discuss below, are most likely estimates that could only be based on packs sold, there would be no record of sales in West Virginia from cigarettes brought privately across the border. There are so many weaknesses in this kind of data that I am truly surprised that any rational human being could give any credence to it. Still many do and, though it is obvious that there are many hidden and fiscal agendas at work here to do as much as possible to extract extra money from smokers, one would think it should be relatively easy to make the case for a new look at regulation by taxation. However, since the numbers are suspect anyway, the following may be more pertinent than the numbers alone. You see . . . . .
The preceding was an exercise in the pseudo-science of epidemiology and you followed right along believing, (to the benefit of any anti-tax advocate or anti-tobacco advocate as well), the numbers supplied. And they were the actual numbers supplied by the CDC. However, do you remember being asked if you were a smoker by the CDC in the last few years. I sure as Hell don't. These numbers are based on estimates that no one outside of the CDC has any clue as to upon what they were based. How do they know 48 million people smoke cigarettes? Do they include those that roll or make their own, or are they simply allocating so many cigarettes per person and basing their estimates according to number of packs sold as we suspected above. This is a clear example of the overwhelming weakness in statistical analysis whether it regards how many smoke, what may cause them to smoke less or quit, OR, most importantly, how many are actually damaged by smoking to the exclusion of all other factors. And . . . smoking what???
Now statistical analysis has long been used for everything from advertising, which TV shows stay on the air, and political prediction (polls). Groups that use this kind of information gathering, sample VERY small groups of people, average it out and apply it to an overall targeted population segment. Especially of concern are the number of underage smokers, as the tables' authors even admit that the YRBS (Youth Risk Behavioral Survey) is based on surveys over many years and therefore cannot provide a state's ranking accurately. If that be the case, then the percentages are likely highly speculative as well. The truth of this whole mess is found in the last sentence of each year's table. "Cigarette tax increases can restore state tobacco tax revenues to historic levels" (certainly true) - "while also reducing state smoking levels and related costs" (certainly not true according to their own figures). Further, the state's estimates as to the health costs of smoking are highly suspicious as well as they offer no clear definition on how they arrived at the figures or how doctors decide that smoking is the primary cause of someone's illness.
It is for reasons of balance, which we try always to achieve, to note that the CDC is not an organization staffed only with power hungry monsters. I have no doubt there are some truly talented and ostensibly altruistic folks working there. Oh, to be sure their funding is heavily weighted towards anti-tobacco generated revenue, but there are scientists of significant repute inhabiting the labs and conference rooms of the CDC. However, these scientists, even the best ones, are often looking at data supplied to them with little or no context. Sure any fool knows that smoking carries risk. So does sex and eating. So does getting out of bed every morning . . . or staying in bed every morning. What the CDC SHOULD be looking at is WHAT people smoke, how OFTEN and how MUCH, as well as the other environmental and lifestyle factors that may dramatically affect their fiscally outrageous experiments. They should know, as most of our readers must, that smoking packaged cigarettes in large quantities increases risk. Why this is so, however, may involve many factors other than the tobacco itself. For instance, what kind of person smokes four packs a day or even three or two? Why do they need so much of the substance? What is their personality type that they would need so much stimulation, or more likely anxiety relief, that they feel the need to spend the time (and money) involved in order to smoke so copiously. Is it, in fact, the pack mentality at work? It is interesting to note that humans, being the diverse creatures we are, are likewise extremely diverse in the ways they approach smoking. Many statistically heavy consumers let cigarettes burn up in the ashtray after only a few puffs. Others, who demonstrate less consumption, puff like the devil, never losing their grip on the stick until it is gone. Certainly no one could logically contend that the impact of these different methods of using tobacco create similar results physiologically, and further that they speak not of differences in personality. There is so much interesting research that COULD be done regarding smoking habits that go well beyond simply the numbers. I would venture to guess that we at RYO Magazine have data that is at least as useful, as to why people smoke the way they do, than does the CDC. Our budget is a bit smaller as well.
I recently saw a short piece on one of the cable news stations on cancer. The participants (some from the CDC) were discussing ways to reduce cancer risk (mostly it involved more and more MONEY for research, bad habit intervention and education all of which are big time, heavily financed - by you - cottage industries). They were showing various activities (or lack thereof in the case of exercise) and their relationship to cancer rates. Of course smoking was at the top of the list, but there were no figures provided as to dosage, lumping all smokers into one single group. They did however, as is beginning to happen a bit more often, include other lifestyle and environmental factors such as diet, exercise, etc. The problem was the cancers they were talking about were very general in nature and the end result was basically a plea for more regulation, taxation, (including new ones on fast foods), and more ostentatious groveling for copious financial support by governmental agencies (again, you the taxpayer). Nothing was accomplished in this segment - just more of the same innuendo and wool gathering. It is no wonder we have had so little success in finding causes and cures for cancer other than early detection which obviously works well with nearly any disease. Surgical removal of tumors and irradiation as well as extremely toxic drug treatments have mitigated cancers impact somewhat, but no one really understands the real cellular reasoning mechanisms behind this disease, nor is anyone much closer to a preventative cure. Bluntly, they focused little on things we should do and concentrated rather on all of the things we shouldn't.
The tables at the bottom of the page show mortality rates. We have discussed this before but I think it bears looking at again. It is the result of yet further opinion/survey-based science but shows some definite patterns. Out of the 2.4 million people that die each year in the US, around 1.8 million are over 65 with the next group (my age group) adding another 250,000 which leaves roughly 400,000 deaths of those under the age of 55. These numbers should give one pause as to what is really causing human death (mostly age) but now many of the anti-smoking groups are linking smoking to every disease imaginable. What convenient and potentially lucrative new field will emerge to harvest when tobacco has lost its right to exist. The new thrust currently is fast food as there are a lot of deep pockets there as well. If you go to the cover page, towards the bottom, I outline a sensible approach to the issue of finally assessing the risk of tobacco usage. And there is risk, certainly, but the numbers are so skewed with weak science, and with extremely vested interests in negative outcomes of the research, that only when we can reach a point where those who publish false information (or interpret falsely and knowingly publish inaccuracies) can be prosecuted, and attorneys who represent the ones who are getting rich off regulation of our personal choices can be held fiscally accountable as well, will we restore the science of medical research to the high standards from which it should never have deviated.
Please look at the tables that are here. Think for yourself. Analyze what is there and make your own conclusions, keeping in mind that many of these numbers are simply estimates, or who knows, even plain fiction. Statistical analysis does have a place in our decision-making process but only when the parameters are clearly defined and the results are accurate. And once you are convinced of the veracity of the data, only then, become proactive. Now I know that a statistical look at our readership might well show a preponderance of gay cowboys who ride black and white Pinto ponies - given the right polling location, of course. One can make numbers show anything they want, especially when there is no obligation to show the details of how the data was gathered and from whom. Until we, as a civilization, began to think for ourselves and hold those who make recommendations about anything, especially involving our personal choices, to a very high standard, we should not wonder that we have failed to solve other larger problems.
So why can't we keep our own little house in order. Now I am no Pollyanna and have no doubt there will always be some people I simply can't stand. The fact, however, may be that our uncanny dependence on statistics makes it impossible to form even a simple rationale for cooperation. With all of the theocratic/theological based animosity in the world, all based on opinion by the way, or FAITH, which is the ultimate form of opinion, we have a very long way to go before we have enough real facts to find common ground with anyone, especially if we need an empirical excuse. Open minds are not getting easier to find and returning to the analogy we started with - that of the machine - perhaps it really is time for a superior form of intelligence to take over our decision making processes for our own good. I resist that notion but if people like you and I do not begin to seriously campaign for drastic changes in who controls the rulebook, perhaps we deserve no better master.
I know I tend to harp on the subject of individual responsibility a lot in this publication, but frankly, though we receive a lot of mail about the subjects we write about, I still see little movement in our ability to control the forces who are bent on controlling us. We have so many more important things to consider on this planet than whether some of us smoke or not, that the huge waste of time and revenue can simply no longer be justified. Even as I write this piece, there is legislation before Congress to force carriers who deliver tobacco products to private residences to disclose that information to the government. Both the seller and buyer will be under unimpeded scrutiny by our Big Brother and I tell you, if we don't stop this kind of intrusion, how can we expect to stop even more intrusive regulation in the future, involving even our most private moments.
The time has come that even single issue candidates, who are enthusiastic supporters of individual rights, should be encouraged to run for office at all levels of government. And once elected, they must begin to get rid of those career bureaucrats, whose continued support of organizations that are raping our treasuries with the excuse that it somehow is in our best interest. These parasites should perhaps be prosecuted along with the lawyers who encourage them. We really do live in a rather small and manageable house if only we redefine what a representative is and firmly control the manner in which they represent us. There are more than 70 million adults in the US who use tobacco in one form or another. I can't remember when any successful Presidential candidate got more than 50 million votes and a potential strategy, based on this fact, could extend all the way down to the lowliest city council member.
I will leave you at peace now to digest all of the above and all of that which follows. AGAIN, please study the tables below and start thinking of ways you can become more proactive in the necessary battles that surely lie ahead in all areas of tax-based social engineering. Enjoy the new year and, please, take a serious look around you and see what you can do to regain, each day, just a little more of self. Here are the tables:
Until next time, enjoy - life is tenuous and should be enjoyed aggressively without regret - without fear - be just selfish enough to do simply that. - the ed.
Email us with any comments on this and/or any other issues that relate to your free choice.
|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.|
A Publication of
The Andromedan Design Company