Thoughts on Tobacco

Fred Brown
As I reflect upon our current condition,
meaning the fraternity of pipe tobacco smokers, I am concerned that we are running out of sanctuaries, and that we are in some sort of middle earth of dragons and awful flying things. I fear that we will be overcome.

Recently (July 13, 2014), I watched CNN’s re-run of its news feature by Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Weed. I missed the first episode and decided to tune-in to this re-run.

Now, I did not just ride in on the turnip truck, but I was stunned to learn from the piece that the federal government owns a patent on marijuana. Did you know that? Why didn’t you tell me?

That would be the very same weed the government says is not medicinal and is dangerously addictive.

So with one hand, the feds are hedging their bets on marijuana, preventing serious research into the plant that can help extremely afflicted children and adults. On the other hand, they will arrest you for having the same drug in your possession in some states.

What is going on here?

I see this as a perfect tobacco vortex. I know, tobacco has nothing in common with marijuana or vortexes, but from my perspective, it really does. Both plants are under the thumb of the Food and Drug Administration, as well as other federal agencies.

Why would the feds have not one patent, as Gupta says, but four (see Dr. William Courtney’s "Cannabis International") on marijuana, a plant that is not only addictive but can get you arrested?

Mayhaps it has something to do with money?

Oh, how naive of me! Surely, I jest. Money? Nah.

Nay, nay, pipe smokers. The bottom line here is the bottom line.

The FDA is an enormous bureaucracy that can either speed something through the molasses-like process or drag its feet like a herd of elephants.

Now medical marijuana is gaining support across the nation, while at the same time, stronger and stronger pot plants are being sold. We know, according to the science, that strong pot is addictive and not good for the lungs or brains. See innumerable photos of "your brains on pot."

So, good pot, we need; bad pot, we don’t need. Simple, right?

Not so fast.

This is where I strike off on my own for a bit. One of the overriding thoughts throughout Gupta’s piece was that in many cases, pot was "relaxing." Many of the patients he interviewed said the high-octane pot zipped them up and out and relaxed them from their pain, tremors, jerks, thoughts, etc.

My pipe has a similar effect on me, only I, uh, don’t have to inhale to get that sort of response.

The FDA now is bringing the sledgehammer down on tobacco products. See Pipes and Cigars excellent work on what the FDA hopes to pull off soon. Then, sign the petition in an effort to convey more sanity to the issue.

I also encourage you to support your local tobacconists, the B&Ms as we often refer to them. Without the B&Ms and the online outlets, our days of wine and tobacco will be over.

And if you think these venues will be around forever, you are not familiar enough with how the FDA works. First falls the hammer, then the wrecking cranes to demolish such structures.

My thinking is that the B&Ms are our first line of defense. If the FDA can severely limit products in the B&Ms, it will be much easier to be heavy-handed with online retailers. Another of Congress’s laws signed by a president can get that job done.

Okay, so it might not be as easy as it sounds to ram something through Congress. I am not an optimist on this subject, however. I come from the media side of this thing and see life not through rosy lenses, but from a very dark pair of sunglasses.

Recall Pipe Pundit Mantra No. 1Remember the golden rule: He who has the gold, writes the rule.

If the FDA can dismantle the B&Ms, or so cripple them with regulations and paperwork, then our lives will be much more difficult when it comes to purchasing pipe tobacco: a limit on production and ever-increasing taxes come to mind first. Again, please see Pipes and Cigars web site for the complete lowdown.

Anything produced or created before 2007 will be grandfathered in, so the FDA says. Anything after 2007 will have to be rigorously tested and verified. This will cost tens-of-thousands and put hundreds out of work.

And, I don’t trust the FDA to keep its word. See PP Mantra No. 1.

I have already written about the worries of two tobacco shop owners who fear more federal regulations will walk deeper into their business operation and wreck what’s left of their shops.

I hope to add some online retailers to this conversation soon.

But until then, I’d like to leave you with some Pipe Pundit personal thoughts On Tobacco:

There is something historically wrong when a government ceases to be of the people, by the people and for the people.

I have given much thought to smoking. I try not to get too far into the subject before I light my pipe.

I am not an optimist. Neither am I a pessimist. I am a pipe smoker, which puts me somewhere in between these two conditions.

The problem with tobacco today is that there is not enough tobacco and too much government.

You know that something really bad has happened in America when it is all right to smoke rocket-fuel marijuana, which has been classified a hallucinogen, and not okay to smoke tobacco.

When I light up my pipe, I feel connected to the ages.

Have you ever seen anyone intoxicated on tobacco? Or arrested for driving under the influence of tobacco?

Is there a difference between pot and tobacco? Yes, despite the fact that both are plants, tobacco helps you to recite poetry and marijuana makes you believe you are poetry.

Say, did you see on the news the other night that a CDC lab lost control of some old smallpox vials, plus other very bad killer bugs? Would that be something if one of the world’s worst viruses got loose and . . . Wait, that was under the protection of a controlled federal lab, right!

If I choose (optimal phrasing here) to smoke a pipe and you do not, does that make me a lesser person? Would you confront Einstein on his choice of smoking a pipe? Would you ask Edwin Hubble why he preferred pipe tobacco on black, starry nights? Would you query C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien just why they enjoyed each other’s company and pipes, while writing some of the greatest literature the world has ever known?

I assume these very brainy types had heard of the evils of smoking in their lifetimes!

And now I will leave you with my personal hero, Sir Winston Churchill. He was a journalist before he was a soldier/statesman. Here are some of his words:

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

If newspapers write that we need to give up smoking, I’d rather give up reading.



Fred Brown
is a journalist who lives in Knoxville, TN. He will write this column for monthly. He can be contacted at


7 Responses

  • Great essay. I’ve often wondered myself when a pot dealer will suffer from a $23 billion dollar judgement…….what????? They’re not a big deep pocket enterprise??? Never mind.
    The government wants to tax tobacco and pot as cash cows but doesn’t want you using………right?!

  • As with so many issues, the lost art is in striking a balance. Laying siege to tobacco
    companies with cigarette sales as a pure nicotine delivery system infused into the
    culture via vast hand-outs of cigarettes during WWII, free samples on campus, and
    mainly redesign of the product — seems an understandable push-back to what was
    pure greed. Banishing pipe smoking from the cultural scene seems a wrong-headed
    overreaching. Balance, balance, balance. People don’t like it; they want yes-no,
    good-bad, right-wrong answers, and that is not the way the world, the human mind,
    or the universe works. Balance is almost everything.

  • Great column. Unfortunately this wheel was set in motion in early Western philosophy (I cannot for the life of me remember which old guy it was) when it was said that the taxation of vices were a good thing to do (ok, was it Plato … damnit) because it would allow, yet discourage those that choose it.
    I get that, but there has to be a balance struck. Which won’t happen because, well, not enough people care if smokers, drinkers, gamblers, etc. are taxed for THEIR activities. Who cares? Same goes for the ever enlarging penalties, fines and sentences for people who commit crimes. It is becoming disproportionate because there aren’t enough voices that care to say “These people are doing more now than what is just. “Fine the hell out of them!” People love to demonize others they do not know. Read any comment board just about anywhere for proof.
    As a PM member who also happens to live in Colorado, I have no beef with tobacco (obviously) or marijuana. I must also state that I am a firm believer in personal choice and individual freedom, that is what our country was founded on. Not group freedom, but individual freedom (see the right to peaceably assemble, an action that requires individuals to first come together).
    I have a libertarian streak in me because I just don’t understand why people can’t let others do what they want as long as they aren’t hurting/abusing anyone. You want to smoke a cigarette/pipe/cigar? Knock yourself out. You want to get drunk/high? Go for it. You want to marry another guy/girl? Have at it. Gamble away your paycheck? Sure. Get a hooker? Be careful, bud.
    … so long as people take responsibility for their actions, and understand the consequences of such. Smoking isn’t good for your health in any form. Understood. Getting drunk or high could result in some issues, better check your behavior or face the consequences. Gay people get divorced all the same as heterosexuals and just because two dudes kissing may be gross, that’s their love, let it go. If you gamble away your money, tough shit.
    There are too many safety nets to catch people who screw up, and their are too many safety nets erected to prevent people from choosing for themselves or punishing you harshly for it.

  • Great article! That is why I don’t trust the govern and churches, they are all liars. By the way, remember that Hitler and Napoleon hated tobacco and we all know whats happened!

  • Good column.
    I smoke my wherever and whenever I want but I’m also conscious of others. I’ve gotten very few if any complaints. Most have been compliments with the exception of one that I recall. And this one was ridiculous and comical as it was an outdoor garden shop and my pipe wasn’t even burning! This wimpy guy acted like an idiot by waving his handkerchief and covering his nose.
    I have a home office and smoking room that I use as my wife is a non-smoker who is gracious enough to allow my love of pipes and tobaccos in the home with some restrictions.
    I’m a conservative and never watch the Main Stream Media and that includes CNN.

  • Realize that living in a democracy means consenting to a tyranny of the majority. If vegans held a majority position, none of us would be eating meat. It may astonish some to realize just how fragile our freedoms are. Of course, we have abandoned the old notion of freedom under government in exchange for a government of rights and entitlements; and the folks who assert the right to not smell tobacco smoke have won the day.

  • Yikes, what a rambling and disjointed piece this was. Being a columnist on the site (and a journalist to boot) I expected more than “Hey, dogs have legs, and so do caterpillars, so they’re the same”-type of logic. I’m not even sure what the argument is. Don’t charge me more for tobacco? Space nazis are landing to steal our pipes? Disappointing.