Let’s make this perfectly clear, as they say in political speeches these days, what the FDA has created is a virulent type of economic apartheid against the American tobacco industry.
The final FDA deeming rules and regulations will, if completely enacted, cripple tobacco commerce as we know it today. That, to me, is a form of social and psychological segregation that should be deemed illegal, for many reasons. But the real concern with the FDA final ruling is more serious. It’s known as restraint of trade.
By targeting the American tobacco industry, setting it aside for trade-killing regulations, is to enforce a cultural apartheid. It is to reduce the historic nature of tobacco to anathema in the public mind.
Tobacco has been singled out by the federal government and the Food and Drug Administration for total destruction. There cannot be much doubt about that.
The FDA has practically followed zombie-like the complete agenda of anti-tobacco zealots, such as those organizations built around keeping tobacco out of the hands of children.
This egregious agenda was established with total disregard of the tobacco industry, especially pipes and tobacco. This shadowy scheme ignored any possibility to work with pipes and tobacco industry leaders to keep children away from tobacco products until they reached their majority.
If a broad public poll had been conducted a few years back asking pipe and tobacco retailers and tobacco manufacturers if they favored selling pipes and tobaccos to underage children, the answer would have been a resoundingly loud no.
However, that was not the mission of the FDA from the outset. Its agenda was to destroy an industry, to push thousands out of good jobs, and to deprive the American public from its right to choose a socially accepted (generally) leisure product of enjoyment. Pipe smokers have no interest in befouling your air space, invading your privacy, or giving a reason to frown or make a face at us in public places.
We are accommodating to the point of detriment. We are a solitary set, who smoke our pipes when we discuss the issues of the day, read great books, take long walks, enjoy the company of other pipe smokers.
And yet, we are looked upon as pariahs of society?
We are not the outliers here. It’s the FDA, who has conducted a scorched earth policy against the tobacco industry, pipe tobacco specifically with its latest set of regulations.
Under these new FDA rules many tobacco products will cease to exist. Even some hand-carved pipes may be in peril of disappearing beneath the weight of the FDA’s deeming regulations.
Already there are reports of some very small pipe shops closing. These would be the mom and pop operations from homes and basements, the same ones politicians call "small businesses," they plan to help in the future.
The future is now!
I am reminded of the story of Cornell & Diehl, one of the hallowed and larger players today in pipe tobacco manufacturing. My friend, the late Craig Tarler and his wife, Patty, moved their business from Bucks County, Pa., to Morganton, N.C., and set up shop in the basement of their home.
This was American entrepreneurship at its finest hour. A husband and wife team, taking their life savings and gambling on a future they believed would help make their dreams a reality. It did.
That same C&D tobacco blender that countless pipe smokers (me included) treasure with its 200-plus tobacco blends, faces an uncertain future with many of its products. Any blend created after Feb. 15, 2007, will not be allowed production under FDA regulations without going through extreme testing and certification costs.
Premium cigars and pipe tobacco became a prominent side issue to the vaping (e-cigarettes) industry’s problems. As with many political matters and federal regulations, pipe tobacco and cigars were tossed in for good measure and now face extinction.
The pipe tobacco and cigar market have absolutely nothing to do with vaporous cigarettes.
Is it possible the FDA is going after the wrong industry? Vaping, or the act of smoking e-cigarettes, has its own sack of ashes to carry. Toxicity of vaping fluids is not fully understood.
Here is what the Huffington Post, quoting the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, says about e-cigarettes: "Most e-cigarettes contain a battery, an atomizer and a replaceable cartridge. The cartridge contains nicotine in a solution of either propylene glycol or glycerin and water, and sometimes also flavorings.
"When you suck on the device, a sensor detects the air flow and starts a process to heat the liquid inside the cartridge, so it evaporates to form water vapour. Inhaling this vapour delivers a hit of nicotine straight to your lungs."
I line up on the side of those who say moderate pipe smoking is about as harmful as someone who lives and works in the U.S. environment.
You talk about your second-hand smoke being bad for the lungs. Try walking outside and breathing deeply in an attack of low-lying ozone, such as that occurred in some regions this summer.
NASA says this about ozone close to the earth’s surface: Ozone is a gas made up of three oxygen atoms (O3). It occurs naturally in small (trace) amounts in the upper atmosphere (the stratosphere). Ozone protects life on Earth from the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. In the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) near the Earth’s surface, ozone is created by chemical reactions between air pollutants from vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and other emissions. At ground level, high concentrations of ozone are toxic to people and plants.
These are indeed strange times. The FDA has wandered off the reservation. Congress has constitutional authority over American commerce. Congress gave FDA authority to reign over tobacco. It can also rescind that authority.
Congress should do so immediately. Here’s why: The FDA is on the verge of eliminating a viable industry in America that has been around since before there was an America (just not in the same framework).
Even the dimmest of bulbs can see that closing off products that have been available for practically the length of this nation’s history is to wreck a multitude of families, cause them undo harm, ruin lives, prevent children from advancing educationally, and to hurt the nation’s economy.
Eventually, the rules and the FDA will be ignored. Tobacco products will make it to a clandestine and unregulated black market that will cash in on the artificial trading created by a federal agency.
So, here is what I suggest before it becomes impossible to reverse these dystopian decisions by the FDA.
This idea is not my own, but I would like to expand it a bit. I read a version of this concept right here on PM’s Forum.
I think it is brilliant in scope. Since the FDA is going to outlaw free tobacco "samples," which will really hurt tobacco producers at pipe shows, why not charge a small "show" fee that could work to pay manufacturers for the samples and to get around the federal hogwash preventing free tobacco samples. The money is not the important thing here. Working around the problem that aims to take away one of our true joys, that of sampling new blends, is the crucial point.
I also think that if a B&M shop is going to be labeled a "manufacturer" under these new FDA rubrics they use to define a shop’s "house blend" of tobacco, there might be a similar path forward for us.
Why couldn’t the B&Ms offer a "pipe club card" to its regular customers and others interested pipe smokers? The regulars pay a small fee to purchase tobacco from the proprietor, bypassing the manufacturing ruse established by the FDA.
Or, a section of the B&M might be declared a "pipes and cigars only" club, allowing the owner to cater to pipe and cigar smokers in any way he or she wants in a constitutional expression of true entrepreneurship.
These kinds of "us against them" rulings by the FDA will require some old-fashioned walking-around sense on the part of all.
We cannot go quietly into the night, allowing the FDA to take away our right to smoke pipes and cigars.
I know that there are several high-profile lawsuits that either have been filed or are in the courthouse wings. The FDA rulings will be challenged on behalf of pipe tobaccos and cigars.
However, overcoming congressional action in the courts will be difficult at best. It would be far better if our support could woo Congress to pull in the reins on the FDA.
Regardless, we simply should not allow the restraint of trade, violating our Constitutional rights, to be trampled upon by a renegade federal agency that does the bidding of the anti-tobacco lobbyists.
It is time that we pipe and cigar smokers stand together and refuse to yield to an out-of-control bureaucracy bent on destroying another American right.
Not in the land that freedom built!