Much Ado About Flavoring: Part Two     February 7th, 2012

C. R. S. Lyles
From the Editor:
The opening photograph to this article is meant to be sarcastic parody. I’m sure our primary audience knows this, but with the anti-tobacco lunacy spiraling ever higher, I am forced to give an explanation up front to avoid a potential crucifixion.

New York City banned all flavored tobacco without an exemption for pipe tobacco. Effectively, almost all pipe tobacco will now be illegal there. The FDA is now considering following suit on a national level. The supposed reasoning is to save the children from the evils of tobacco. Ok, fine, but why not exempt pipe tobacco (and cigars)? Find me one “child” that actually smokes pipe tobacco in a briar pipe and I’ll give you a million dollars.

They are potentially solving a problem that doesn’t exist while putting an entire industry out of business. - Kevin Godbee

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This issue requires no preamble; the situation needs no context to understand its implications — there are those who exist in this country with the power to tell you what to do, and they are telling you what to do.

On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1256, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Prior to this piece of legislation being signed into law, the Supreme Court had ruled in FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. that the FDA did not have the authority to regulate tobacco products.

Now, one can argue that, in 2009, there was a decidedly partisan administration running both the executive and legislative branches and that something such as this was an inevitability, but that’s missing the point. For now, the situation is what it is, and the only way to amend the damages wrought upon personal freedoms is by playing the same game that freedom’s opponents are playing better than us.

 



One such method, as discussed in previous articles, is submitting legislation on behalf of the rights of smokers and tobacconists across the country.

Craig Tarler, President of Cornell & Diehl

Another way, though, is through simple education, which is where manufacturers such Craig Tarler and Leonard Wortzel come in.

Tarler, the president of Cornell & Diehl for the past 22 years, has said that educating the regulators themselves is going to be one of the first steps.

“This time last year, I had a complete audit by TTB (Tobacco Tax Bureau) from two agents who were supposed to understand the business,” Tarler said. “And they told me they had never even seen a pipe tobacco manufacturing operation. They were amazed at the cutting and the blending and the pressing — they had never seen any of it.”

In the first part of this series, Paul Creasy warned against the dangers of pipe tobacco being regulated out of existence by accident (due possibly to their premature leaps to “stick it to the cigarette companies.”) According to Tarler, this is exactly the way that it happens.

“If this happens [with agents such as these],” Tarler implored. “Then what happens to the people who are less schooled?”

The agents in question, according to Tarler, said that they wanted to use the Cornell & Diehl manufacturing operation as an example for training, but this is only a first step toward a re-education of the American population in how tobacco products are viewed.

In the eyes of the mass populous, tobacco in all forms is inherently destructive and evil and will give you cancer just from its smell, but to anyone who’s enjoyed anything other than a cigarette, this fact unravels quickly into the farce that it is.

Wortzel, brand manager for pipe and RYO (roll-your-own) at Lane Limited, spoke of how this misconception has long been a part of our culture, even up to the government.

Leonard Wortzel, Brand Manager Pipe and RYO, Lane Limited

Leonard Wortzel, Brand Manager Pipe and RYO, Lane Limited

“They’ve been attempting to establish a jurisdiction over tobacco products since 1995,” Wortzel said. “It was originally overturned by the Supreme Court in 2000 as beyond their authority, but every year since then, they’ve introduced a bill to give the FDA that jurisdiction.”

Which brings us nicely to 2009, where “they” finally got their wish, partially spurred on, according to Wortzel, by public health advocates, court findings in the U.S. v Philip Morris Inc. case, and support from Philip Morris itself.

Since then, Wortzel said, the first new FDA center in 30 years has been built: the Center for Tobacco Products.

“In 2009, the Center for Tobacco Products had a $78 million budget and 13 employees,” Wortzel said. “By 2011, that budget increased to $477 million and they had 370 full-time employees.”

But there is one thing that the CTP doesn’t have.

“Currently, the Tobacco Center actually doesn’t have jurisdiction over pipe [tobacco] and/or cigars,” Wortzel said. “It’s specifically written in that they don’t. But the intent and the expectation (for which they’re currently writing legislation) is to bring pipe [tobacco] and cigars under their jurisdiction and under the Tobacco Control Act so that they can more actively enforce laws.

“Now, while this sounds like more meddlesome over-regulation, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, according to Wortzel.

“The one hope is that the Center for Tobacco Products is actively engaging with the industry and getting up to speed so that they don’t make decisions and pass laws that wipe out entire industries when that wasn’t their original intention,” Wortzel said. “That’s what happens when they start labeling everything as one big industry instead of recognizing the breakdown. What I honestly hope is that there will be a sense of constructive cooperation between the industry and the FDA.”

Familiar rhetoric certainly, but if anything about the current state of our country has taught us about those who inhabit it, it is this: the repetition of words with a progressively louder volume leads to willful and welcome indoctrination.

For example, a recent news story arose surrounding an “economic life lesson” that was being taught to students at Valencia College in Orlando, Fla., by their professor, Jack Chambless.

The assignment Chambless gave to the class was an essay question that asked if they would be willing “to support a law that banned the right to own property and imposed heavy, progressive income taxes on people in order to bring about a reduction in poverty and ‘greater sense of community.’”

Now, for those of you who are familiar with the work of Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, you will undoubtedly recognize the rhetoric of the first two planks of the Communist Manifesto, almost verbatim.

However, to someone who is only familiar with the language and “buzz-words” of our times, you would hear an answer to the housing crisis and a way to get back at the evil Wall Street executives and tax the rich “their fair share.”

Unfortunately, out of the 137 students the quiz was given to, 28% “wrote that they would support, enthusiastically in some cases, the elimination of the right to property for Americans and far greater taxation.”

True, the socioeconomic statistics are disparaging (due primarily to the rather lopsided nature of the income and capital gains taxes, but that’s another story), but I bring this example to light to illustrate an important fact-one which I believe all those who have spoken out against the New York flavoring ban, H.R. 1256, and further FDA regulatory measures — all it takes to turn someone or something against itself is the right choice of words.

Which is exactly the crisis facing pipe tobacco: a confusion of words. What to the mass population means “enticing to children,” means “a more enjoyable smoke” to a pipe smoker, or “next month’s rent” to a tobacconist.

Flavoring, casing, topping — whatever you call it, it must be accepted within its own context. Lumping in all tobacco products so that they can be regulated to death is…well, I believe the example of the Valencia class’ responses provides an appropriate parallel.
- C. R. S. Lyles

More from the Editor: FDA law, as passed by Congress in 2009, allows the agency to extend tobacco regulations to other tobacco products, including cigars and pipe tobacco. Currently, the FDA only regulates cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco products.

On April 25, 2011, the FDA issued a letter stating its intent to propose regulations on other tobacco products, such as cigars and pipe tobacco. The letter went on to state that these regulations may include company registration, product listing, ingredient listing, good manufacturing practice requirements, user fees for certain products and premarket review requirements for new tobacco products and modified risk tobacco products.

Subsequent to the April 2011 announcement by the FDA, industry trade groups representing cigar and pipe tobacco manufacturers have made presentations to FDA staff on the uniqueness of these tobacco products and the agency has not yet issued any proposed regulations for these products.

The FDA does not have any time frame or deadline by which any proposed regulations on these tobacco products would be issued for public comment. In fact, the FDA might, but is not required to, extend its regulatory authority to cigars and pipe tobacco.

Stay tuned to the pages of Pipes Magazine to stay current on the legislative front of pipe tobacco.

Carter R. Lyles is a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL and at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He is a journalism/psychology major, and in addition to his work at Pipes Magazine, he has contributed articles to Cigar Chronicles, The Alligator, Thursday Night Magazine, and The Fine Print.
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