Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Great American Smokeout

Today's the day we designate to encourage people to stop smoking, and I'll definitely light a bowl for that.

The Great American Smokeout is nothing more than a propaganda machine that ignores the basic truths about tobacco to demonize us for a choice we have made that we feel improves our lives.

If the government and interest groups were actually interested in the health of smokers, they would surely have used the power of the FDA by now to address the chemical additives in most cigarettes. I'm certain many of us still remember when cigarettes would extinguish themselves if they were not being actively smoked. We still see that with pipes and cigars. And the government saw this as a problem. But instead of mandating the removal of offending chemicals, they allowed additional chemicals to be added to create low-ignition-propensity paper. Don't forget, there are also chemicals in there to improve flavor, lessen the effects on the throat, and *cough* make them more addictive, including the artificial addition of increased nicotine content. To my knowledge, however, the studies have all been on the dangers of tobacco, not the dangers of the additional chemicals injected into cigarettes.

So they ignore the major studies, including one by the U.S. Surgeon General, that show pipe smoking actually extends your life expectancy. (Ironically, there are studies about the benefits of stress reduction, but no one's put the two together.)

But even though we often find ourselves at odds with the government, at least as far as our hobby goes, we are actually in one accord on this issue, because we, too, are trying to encourage people to quit cigarettes.

Even without the chemical additives, cigarettes use the lowest quality of tobacco leaf, which is necessary when they are mass produced in the quantities needed to supply the American market. Cigar and pipe tobacco leaf, however, is first rate stuff, usually grown by families relying on an ever-increasing body of institutional knowledge. Plus, there is great variety in pipes and cigars, ranging from Virginias to perique to Latakia and Connecticut to Maduro to Sumatra, respectively, with flavors an additional option in both tobacco forms. In all ways, pipe tobacco and cigars are vastly superior to cigarettes, and it's time people began to realize that.

So, in honor of the Great American Smokeout, encourage someone to quit smoking cigarettes by introducing them to the vastly superior tobacco available in pipes and cigars. It is our duty and our privilege.

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