Here is the issue: What do smoking pipes and the Federalist Papers (first known as simply Federalist) have in common?
Some of the finest minds of the 18th Century wrote the Federalist essays, some 81 in all, as a way to inform the reading public on the intricacies of government and the governed.
One of those great minds was James Madison, fourth U.S. president and "Father of the U.S. Constitution." He grew tobacco and smoked cigars, and his wife puffed happily on her pipes, as did many women of that era.
A Second Front has opened in the Tobacco Wars. And if you are a conspiracy theorist, you might see this latest assault as one that could make pipe tobacco harder to find, harder to sell, and harder to purchase. Why? A major reason is that all of these issues result from the heavy tax burden waiting in the wings to be levied against Lady Nicotine, the beloved brown leaf of pipe smokers.
If you have been following the Tobacco Wars for a while, you know that once the States Attorneys General enter into the fray, all the furniture in the room gets rearranged.
Two of East Tennessee’s most iconic retail tobacconists, Smoky’s Cigar in Knoxville, TN., and The Gatlin-Burlier Tobacconist in Gatlinburg, TN., gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, have been in business for more than 30 years each. Combined, the two shops have more than a half century of history and experience from which to draw.
Dave Watson, owner of Smoky’s, and Ira Lapides, owner-founder of The Gatlin-Burlier in the resort town of Gatlinburg, bring an astounding amount of business acumen to the table when it comes to pipes, tobacco and what the future holds for those who enjoy the fruits of their labor.
To quote an old military theory, wars fought on several fronts are not won on any.
Now take the battle lines for tobacco. It is not news that there is a war afoot against the use of tobacco in any form.
Just recently, CVS, one of the largest retail pharmaceutical outlets in the nation, decided to rid its shelves of tobacco products. In the announcement, directors of the company said they realized removing tobacco products would cost the company billions in sales. That’s a B as in billions.
Thus, one of the last bastions of “over-the-counter” or OTC “codger” tobacco products and pipes is disappearing into thin air, signaling the end of an era.
All right, so we all know that pipe smoking is good for your attitude. And it’s brain food, right? It settles the nerves and puts you at peace with the world and those around you.
Yes, we know all that. That’s why we are pipe smokers in the face of an increasing opposing public, Political Correctness Police and Anti-Extremists, etc., who are now even taking out the old “drug store” blends from drug stores. Woe is me.
Okay, so here is where we are going. Today, despite immense downward pressure from the above mentioned corps of correction squads, more than ever before, there are dozens and dozens of new tobacco blends on the market, and more are on the way.
Here is the irony: In a time when the nation is legalizing marijuana, it is demonizing tobacco. In a time when marijuana’s drawbacks are being overlooked, or just not mentioned, tobacco’s worst characteristics are being loudly touted. And in a time when states are looking to jump on the marijuana bandwagon in order to reap the revenue rewards, tobacco is being bashed by punitive taxes and bans across the spectrum.
Tobacco’s early history has been pushed to the trash heap. Once, it was a crop this nation counted on to square its debts with foreign nations. It was a crop that was highly sought in foreign markets and sold worldwide. Kentucky burley tobacco was shipped to Europe in hogsheads and some of it returned to the U.S. in the form of pipe tobacco in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Does that sound familiar? It should.
Well, it is a new pipe and tobacco year. There were some surprises last year with the comeback of a couple of long-loved and highly missed Three Nuns and Capstan. Now, at the dawn of 2014 comes the exciting news that the “old” original Crown Achievement is back in a new presentation tin. All good stuff.
But what about some real 2014 trends, down in the details, that you can get only from an insider like Ted Swearingen, Vice President and General Manager of SmokingPipes.com.
Ted was kind enough to take some time to lend his thoughts, including what he sees as trends for the new year. Some quick highlights, then his deeper interpretations:
Despite their diverse backgrounds, Bobby Nesbitt, a miner who lives and works in Sandersville, Ga., “The Kaolin Capital of the World,” and Charles Stewart, a retired University of Georgia dean, have a couple of things in common.
They are buddies, but more than that, both are pipe smokers and they both buy and sell pipes by the truck load.
For the pipe smoking world, 2013 hasn’t been much of a "smoking" ("hot") year.
Oh sure, recently we’ve had plenty of innovation (and re-innovation) in tobacco blends (Three Nuns and Capstan redux come to mind). And there have been vast strides made in pipe-making from absolutely astounding artisans.
The crafts of tobacco-blending and pipe-making are in a kind of renaissance, maybe even an artistic revolution. Perchance it’s not too far off to say that pipes and tobaccos are going through an Age of Enlightenment.