Monday, January 19, 2015

Thoughts on The New Orleans Smoking Ban Hearings-



For those of you that are unaware, there is a wide reaching ordinance being proposed  by New Orleans Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell that would ban smoking and all forms of vaping virtually everywhere in the city, inside and out.  There has already been talk of amendments amongst council members, but that is not what I am going to talk about in this post. What I want to share is my experience and observations on what took place at the two town hall sessions before the council’s Community Development Committee on Weds., Jan. 7th and on Weds., Jan. 14th.


Round One…..


Hearing #1 took place at 10 am in the morning. The first thing that I noticed upon arriving was the number of people in attendance. The place was packed to capacity and many people were not allowed in to listen or to fill out a speaker card.  I took a quick glance around the room and I immediately noticed that the room had been divided into three factions, one with smoke and vape-ban  proponents  heavily armed with t-shirts calling for a smoke free New Orleans. Smoke and vape ban opponents were identifiable by stickers provided by  Freedom To Choose Nola .  There was a sizable pro-vape ban contingent that brandished “I am not a smoker…..anymore!” t-shirts that lined the back wall and portions of the adjacent wall. I chose to sit amongst the 2nd group.


The first segment of the hearing was allotted to a panel of health industry lobbyists that took up a good portion of the 1st hour, leaving the public only one minute to speak per person in the remaining hour. All three factions had an impressive turnout, but a quick glance around the room told me that there were more opponents than proponents of the ban; and that’s not bad considering the amount of time, preparation, and money that is often afforded to pro-ban campaigners. Passing bans around the country is their job after all, and they’re quite good at it.  Each panelist went on about the dangers of 2nd hand smoke and the need to protect employees from exposure in the workplace. When the panel (there were no detractors) was finally finished the public was invited (one by one) to speak.


My first observation was that ban proponents were well organized. They stayed with the uniform message of protecting workers and musicians from 2nd hand smoke while making it a point to wax quixotic on the new(er) danger of “passive aerosol”.  They had the head of the Musician’s Union (of which I was briefly a member) Deacon John, musician Irvin Mayfield (who owns a smoke-free venue on Bourbon St.), the head of the local Musician’s Clinic, smoke-free volunteers, and a small smattering of smoke-free bar owners all calling for a smoke free New Orleans. Presumably, the latter group was merely in it just to “level the playing field”. Though not in attendance physically, even the local radio station has been campaigning with them (..my band was scheduled to do an on air performance a few months back...we were cancelled by management and  never asked back…Coincidence? I can’t prove it, but I believe that there is a price to disagreeing with smoke ban proponents) via on-site ads and sponsored smoke-free shows. Never mind the fact that most live music venues in New Orleans, save for Bourbon St. (and there are even smoke-free venues there), are already smoke-free.  The more trendy and upscale Frenchmen St. is currently about 95% smoke free. I only know of one venue there that allows smoking. Oh, and God bless him, they even had a minister get up and speak in favor a smoke free NOLA. I am sure that he is the type to frequent bars, live music venues and drinking establishments.


Listening to the pro-ban side and realizing the amount of power attached to it, my heart sank knowing the risk that I’d be taking as a local musician by speaking out against this ban, but I choose to speak out anyhow; it’s the way that I’m wired. I’ve never liked it much when other people tried to tell me how I lived my life. The first song that I ever sang in a band was a Who cover song….’nuff said.


Those opposed to the ban in its entirety were comprised of local casino representatives, local bar and casino workers (and there were a lot of them), an owner of several bars on Bourbon St., residents of the Quarter, and as far as I could tell, one lone musician: me. Even though I know musicians against that are the ban, I was the only musician to SPEAK out against the ban that day. There were quite a few people in our amalgamated and loosely aligned group of ban dissidents. In fact, it appeared to the eye that there were more us than “them”. Why didn’t more musicians speak out against the ban? My only guess would be that getting up there in front of so many powerful people can be quite an intimidating experience, especially in a climate where many of your potential employers are supportive of the opposition. Disagreeing with the establishment can be a scary thing when gigs and money are already scarce.


Our group was nothing like the more organized pro ban group that occupied the left side of the chamber.  We had no professional lobbyists speaking on our behalf, no formal welcome committee, and no real organization. We each got up to tell our story (in one minute) on how and why we had come to oppose the ban. The reasons given varied from being about the potential for lost job and tourist revenue, lost revenue for the state (and thus, for the state police), lost freedom, lost private property rights,  a loss of social cohesion and diversity, and the catastrophic loss of the laissez-faire attitude that New Orleans has come to be known and loved for. There was no one on our side to contest the “settled science” on 2nd hand smoke or the “dangers” of aerosol/vapor, save for me of course. My years (about 7 now) of reading and conducting research on the science and politics of smoking (and now vaping) bans have afforded me the luxury of coming across some  potent  and  valuable information  that calls the “settled science” of decades past into question. This is what I attempted to base the first 30 seconds of my time speaking on, with the remainder of my time spent on questioning why they would want to ban vapor products that harbor the potential to save lives.  I showed them my Ploom tobacco vaporizer and I told them that this is what helped me to transition away from smoking entirely. I also told them how I had used it in a crowded non-smoking bar on Frenchmen St. and how no one had even noticed that I was doing so until a couple of patrons saw me partaking in the hand to mouth motion, of which one made it a point to marvel at the brilliance of the technology. The point that I was trying to make was that clearly my little vapor pipe is annoying to no one, not even in a non-smoking venue, so why ban it? I mentioned how vapor technology has the potential to save lives. I closed by saying that I oppose the ban in its entirety and that I supported the right of the property owner to choose between being a smoking or non-smoking establishment.  I wanted to say more, but that was it: minute up.


Then came the e-vapers with their “I am not a smoker….anymore” t-shirts. As a vaper myself, I have to say that I was quite pleased to see them there…..more for the side of freedom I thought…As a proponent of harm reduction, I have to admit that I felt a sense of pride for them. Then one by one, vaping proponents took to the podium and proceeded to side with the pro-ban side by expressing their distaste of smoking and all things tobacco (I vape tobacco..I also have a couple of mods, but whatever…). I was mortified. They had thrown smokers (many of whom are musicians and my friends) under the bus.  How could they have become so judgmental I wondered? Truth be told, only a few vapers had the chance to speak at the first session. No worries I thought, for surely the remaining vapers in the room would speak out on behalf of freedom of choice in the next round. 


The pro-ban side began throwing in its two cents (mostly coming from health advocates) on how vapor should also be banned. The look on the faces of vaping advocates was pure astonishment, and rightfully so, for the same trusty strategy used against smokers was now being used on vapers. They/we were now getting thrown under the bus with the smokers. The clock hit 7:00 pm on the wall and the first session was over, much to the protest of many vapers who did not get the chance to speak. There were shouts of protest and a few vaping advocates were ejected from the room.  The representative from the ALA was allowed to speak a SECOND time giving her the last word of the evening. Then the committee voted 3/2 to bring the ordinance, with amendments (more on the amendments as they become clear to me), to a vote before the entire council, but not before holding one more “open” public discussion to allow for more public “debate”.


Round Two……


Weds., January 14th @ 5:00 pm marked the beginning of the 2nd Town Hall discussion on Councilwoman Cantrell’s proposed ban on smoking and vaping in New Orleans.


Expecting another packed house, I arrived early. As expected, the pro-ban side had their army of ban proponents there before everyone else. It didn’t look good I thought as I sat there on the opposite side of the room anticipating the arrival of more like minds. Then much to my relief, more and more people began to fill up the chairs around me. Once again there was also a sizable group of vapers in the room by the time the session was about to get underway, but not as many as the week prior. In the end it appeared to my eye that the room had about an equal amount of pro and anti-ban proponents, along with the vapers, who tried to remain autonomous from the first two groups. This time there was an allotment of two minutes, rather than one, for each speaker.  The room was divided roughly into three factions, just as it had been the week before, with the exception of some loosely integrated pockets.


On the fence about whether to fill out a speaker card for a 2nd time, I took the liberty of speaking once more. What the hell, I figured, I might as well try to finish what I couldn’t squeeze in the week prior. One minute was not nearly enough time to get my point across the last time, and I have since learned that neither is two. It takes a special set of skills to make a case about something in two minutes, but I’m learning.


Each side had roughly the same message as the week prior, save for some new and novel arguments relating to wild and far reaching claims about the dangers of 3rd hand smoke,  and the possible use of cannabis in e-cigs.  There was even reference made to the idea that e-cigarettes could be used for crack cocaine. There was also a fear that vaping could serve to “re-normalize” smoking (courtesy of the ALA representative). Ban proponents therefore made a special effort to focus on the demonization of e-cigarettes and aerosol.  “E-cigarette aerosol is filled with formaldehyde, diethylene glycol, and tobacco specific nitrosamines..” cried one ban proponent. Vaping enthusiasts were not thrilled, and neither was I.  I could see them shaking their heads in utter disbelief at the exaggerations being put forth by various health proponents. Ban proponents even brought in Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) to speak in favor of the comprehensive ban:


"I’m hopeful that next Thursday you get the support you need to make New Orleans and its citizens healthier,” she said. “This ordinance is a critical instrument in fighting for healthier air for all of us.”


OK, why is the government lobbying government to take away the rights of its own constituents I wondered? I thought that this was supposed to be a forum for the RESIDENTS and BUSINESS owners of New Orleans! How does a community defend itself from regulatory overreach when its own government is lobbying against the very constituents that it is supposed to represent? Furthermore, aren’t our representatives supposed to represent ALL of the people? Quickly I began to realize how futile my argument was. The decision likely had already been made.


They even brought in a pediatrician to speak on the danger that 3rd hand smoke poses to children when their parents come home with the smell of smoke on their clothes after being in a smoking allowed bar. No, I am NOT making that part up. He really said that 3rd hand smoke is dangerous and that "the children" need to be protected from it. In addition, there was one woman who howled into the microphone that she felt sick because she could smell the smoke on the clothes of the woman sitting next to her. “I feel like someone has just shot Novacaine into my nose” she howled. No. I am not making that part up either. Suspicious minds think that she merely had an aversion to sitting next to anyone on our side of the room that harbored an alternative opinion different to her own. She and her significant other proceeded (after her speech) to pick up their things and move to the center of the chambers…..where it was at least 1/2  full with smoke and vape ban opponents. Frustrated, she and her significant other picked up their things and left.


On Vapers and Quasi ANTZ Support..


I would like to conclude this post by saying this:


For those who are not familiar with the tactics of anti-tobacco campaigners, much of what I have described thus far should come off as being quite shocking. I have to admit that many of the claims made by anti-tobacco and anti-nicotine campaigners still continue to shock the hell out of me to this day; however, what really stunned me the most was when one after another, vaping advocates proceeded to side with anti forces, often clapping their hands and nodding in agreement with many of the claims made by pro ban speakers. WTF? How can they believe all of the lies about 2nd hand/3rd hand smoke and the “10 gazillion chemicals” in tobacco smoke and then in the same breath (pun intended) act surprised when the very same people exaggerate the risks from “passive vaping”? How could they be so blind I wondered? Even if we do manage to get vapor products exempted from this proposed ban, don’t they realize that the prohibitionists are masters of incremental subjugation with only one end game in mind? I realize that many vapers feel that they need to separate vaping from smoking. I get that. Vaping is NOT smoking. However, as a vaper myself I surmise that throwing smokers, service industry workers, and private business owners under the bus will only serve to leave us standing all alone when they come back for us next year; and they WILL be back for us next year. Count on it. They are already on our front porch. Furthermore, for those vapers who loathe all things tobacco, I have one question:


Don’t you remember where you came from?


The fact that smokers are habitually thrown under the bus by the ANTZ is par for the course in our neo-healthist (the irony here is that I’m somewhat of a health nut myself, but whatever…) world.  It’s not “right” nor just to tell other people how to live their lives, but that is what we have come to expect from anti-smoking campaigners these days. What I didn’t anticipate was being sideswiped by fellow vapers, most of whom are former smokers like myself.  I understand the anger amongst some against (certain) tobacco companies for what appears to be an  effort to put many independently owned vape shops out of business, but how does directing your ire towards the people that you are purporting to care about help our cause? Why take out your anger, however direct or indirect, on smokers and other small business owners like yourself? That’s what the ANTZ do. We don’t need to perpetuate the lies and exaggerations of 2nd hand smoke in order to demonstrate that vaping is not smoking when the science is already clear on that.  Why not focus on the bigger picture?


The Lesson Learned…..


The cause of freedom is not contingent upon the wants of one faction over another; that is the game that the ANTZ use to take freedoms from ALL of us. In any war the first casualty is truth. First they come for me, then they come for you.  No one wins in such an environment. This is not a zero sum game. Freedom and the overall message of harm reduction are synonymous with one another.  Selling out for short term gain equates to long term loss for everyone and on a multitude of levels.  Unfortunately, there are some people out there that think that it’s their job to take away the people’s freedom.

Peace:-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sign The Petition | Freedom to Choose NOLA!



Hello and Happy New Year to all.



Sadly, there is no time to rest for the "wicked".



For those of you who have either come to let loose in New Orleans in the past and for those of you who plan to come for a holiday in the future, there is a proposed ban in New Orleans that would virtually ban all smoking and vaping pretty much anywhere within the city, indoors and out.



Please sign the petition linked below. Thank you in advance!



 Sign The Petition | Freedom to Choose NOLA!




                

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Senator David Leyonhjelm THANKS Australians for smoking in speech | Daily Mail Online


Holy crap! There's an honest politician...somewhere out there. They do exist. It's shocking I know. Maybe we should study this phenomena (rare as it is) to see if there's a way that we can replicate it the world over.


For those of you out there in the blogosphere who sometimes get bogged down by all of the bad news, this ought to cheer you up:



Senator David Leyonhjelm THANKS Australians for smoking in speech | Daily Mail Online

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ploom Introduces Two New PAX Proprietary Blends

For those who have never heard of Ploom before, Ploom is an upstart tobacco company based out of San Francisco that is setting out to change the way many smokers consume tobacco. On their website, founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees, two grad students at Stanford's Joint Program in Design, explain how the idea of Ploom came to fruition:


Ploom began as a conversation between a smoker and a non-smoker outside a studio at Stanford’s Joint Program in Design in 2004. “What do you hate about smoking?” Adam asked. “What do you love about it?” James responded.

In a quest to reinvent smoking, the PAX and the modelTwo were born. Both heat, rather than burn, plant material.


OK, now onto the point of this post..


Blend X is a pipe tobacco that is meant to be vaped with the PAX, rather than with its other tobacco vaporizer the Ploom modelTwo. I'm already a big fan of the modelTwo and its proprietary tobacco pods which come in 6 different flavors, so naturally I had become intrigued as soon as I heard that Ploom was about to introduce two new Blend X flavors. It was the the modelTwo that got me to make the switch over to vaping from smoking entirely. There really is nothing on the market that delivers in the same way that Ploom does. For those that feel that there is "something missing" in their vape, this may be what you have been looking for.


The two new flavors that have been added to the original Blend X line of pipe tobacco are:

  • Blend X Hazelnut-A balanced blend of Burley and Virginia, augmented by toasted Cavendish and hints of hazelnut. Smooth and pleasing. Delivers an optimal Pax experience.
  • Blend X Black Raspberry-A perfect blend of Virginia Golden and Burley Black Cavendish tobaccos with an irresistible berry finish. Rich and delightful. Delivers an optimal Pax experience.

Last week, after waiting with anticipation for my order to arrive, I received one tin of Blend X Hazelnut and one tin of Blend X Raspberry in the mail. Each arrived packaged in its own air-tight tin. Upon first glance, it appears that a lot of love, time and fine tobacco craftsmenship has gone into creating this line. This is not your average corner store bought tobacco. This is the type of tobacco that can only be found at a fine tobacconist shop, of which there are precious few. The price, at $12.99 per 1.75 oz. tin, is surprisingly reasonable. Just one of the many benefits of vaping tobacco is that a little goes a long way, thus making vaping Blend X tobacco the more economic option for some tobacco connoisseurs and vapers looking for an alternative to what is already commonly available on the market.


So how do the new blends taste? I can honestly say that I love both the Black Raspberry and the Hazelnut; both are a vast improvement in the flavor department when compared to the original Blend X. It's not that I never cared for the original Blend X, it's just that I like the new blends better. I used to mix various teas in with the original Blend X in an attempt to extract the same amount of flavor that I have grown accustomed to getting from the modelTwo's proprietary pods. With the new blends I find that they are quite enjoyable all on their own. As a major fan of the modelTwo, I must state that Ploom's flavored pods are a tough act to follow flavor wise. The Black Raspberry and Hazelnut deliver in a major way, minus the added humectants.


Now for a bit about the PAX from the company website:

Small enough to fit in your pocket, Pax heats, never burns your tobacco, releasing a delicious, satisfying vapor. It's the world's most pocketable, premium loose-leaf vaporizer.

PAX features:

  • Three temperature settings-
    • Low-370 F-
    • Med-390 F-
    • Hi- 410 F-
  • Retractable mouthpiece that turns device on and off-
  • Long-lasting permanent internal lithium ion battery-
  • Automatic motion-based temperature control-
  • Indicator shows status, temperature setting, and charge status with a gentle shake-
  • Wide heater chamber for no-effort refill-
  • 30 second heat-up time-
  • Laser-welded stainless steel air path-
  • Standby mode after 30 seconds of sitting idle-
  • Measures 4 1/8 ” x 1.4” x 7/8”-
  • Available in multiple colors-
  • 1 hour charge time-
  • Continued use of up to 2 hours-
  • 10 year warranty-


There are a few things that I like particularly about the PAX as compared to other portable loose leaf vaporizers that are on the market. The retractable mouthpiece makes it virtually impossible to accidentally activate your PAX while in your purse or pocket. I also really love the standby mode feature as it both saves your tobacco and your power if you're a slow puffer like me that likes to savor the experience and the flavor. There are other loose leaf vaporizers on the market that take quite a bit longer to charge. PAX's relatively quick charge time makes it the perfect vaporizer-alongside the modelTwo-for those on the go. There is also a car charger that can be purchased. Another thing to note is that all of Ploom's proprietary chargers are uniquely distinct and therefore impossible to confuse with any other chargers that you may have lying around the house, car/truck, or suitcase. I like to think of this as an added safety feature.


As an aside, I should mention that vaping with either the PAX or with the modelTwo is an entirely different experience as compared to that of smoking, or even to that of other liquid vaporizers. There is no smell, and while there is visible vapor, there are no massive clouds produced. Cloud chasers may not like what Ploom has to offer, but those in search of flavor will most likely be pleasantly surprised. Ploom has the flavor angle down in spades. I'd still be smoking if I hadn't come across the modelTwo a year ago. In my own personal experience I have also found that the experience is much more enjoyable if approached more like that of (puffed on, rather than inhaled directly) a cigar or pipe. I also noticed something about vaping tobacco that I can't quite explain. There is more of a sense of "fullness" after a good vape. I find that I can go for longer periods without thinking about it as a result. All of that changes however, if there is a glass of red wine in my hand. Everyone is different. Ah, the good things in life are often those little treats that you allow yourself to indulge in at the end of the day.


I don't write reviews on this blog very often, but every once in a while there is a product or company that I really can't help writing about, well, because I like it so much. Ploom is one such company.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NASA and Dept of Defense To The Rescue


NASA and Dept of Defense To The Rescue.......of smokers and vapers?


In the early 2000's, Premier Micronutrient Corporation was asked by NASA to develop a formula to address problems astronauts were experiencing with their lungs as a result of being subjected to radiation. The LungShield products are specifically derived from these formulations.

A brand like LungShield could have revolutionary impact on the e-cigarette industry.


“LungShield is introduced to the smoking world as the first strategy to incorporate a micronutrient-enhanced liquid base formulation into electronic cigarettes to mitigate potential adverse health effects. LungShield was developed to help reduce potentially injurious effects of chemicals in the vapor,” said Haase.

Wellness expert Janet Brooks was asked about her view of healthy alternative e-cigarette products hitting the market. "I understand and support new and innovative methods and technology to move wellness to a new paradigm of prevention."


Brooks is the Founder of Dallas-based Fortitude Health and Wellness. Fortitude works with veterans on smoking cessation and disease risk reduction initiatives and was one of the first organizations to receive LungShield e-liquids for personal vaping use.


Patented Micronutrient Formulation Tested with NASA and Department of Defense, Licensed to E-Cigarette Industry


What are the ANTZ going to say when smokers and vapers are buying their vaping/smoking paraphernalia at Whole Foods and other like-minded markets? Soon what is deemed to be politically "incorrect" will become just the opposite. That's how the pendulum swings.


The thought gives me great pleasure. That day couldn't come soon enough.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The End Game

I stumbled on a rather interesting document the other day whilst reading through the comments on Dr. Siegel's blog. It provides us with a glimpse of what is to come if the denormalization of smokers-and now vapers and smokeless tobacco users-continues down on its current trajectory towards prohibition:


...continuing with present measures alone will not be sufficient to contain the epidemic. Thus, the idea of planning for an endgame has recently gained traction in the global public health community


Here it is, the End Game all spelled out in an easy to understand language.


For anyone who was under the impression that smoking bans were (ever) about protecting non-smokers, I give to you some rather interesting quotes straight from the dark cabals of  the TC  enterprise itself:

...it is necessary to move beyond a focus on tobacco control (and its concomitant assumptions that tobacco is here to stay and that regulating the time, place and manner of its use is the policy objective) toward a focus on planning how to reach a tobacco-free future.


Not a smoke-free future (as if that were even possible) mind you,  but a tobacco-free future.


...some countries regarded as tobacco control leaders are instituting endgame planning.

....we define tobacco endgame thinking as follows: Initiatives designed to change/eliminate permanently the structural, political and social dynamics that sustain the tobacco epidemic, in order to achieve within a specific time an endpoint for the tobacco epidemic.


Change/eliminate social dynamics? What ever are they alluding to? Anyone who does not find this beyond creepy is not paying attention.


No wonder they want to close down many of (most) the clubs and bars in the U.K.,  the U.S., and beyond. People talk and enjoy themselves in those places. Some of them even have live music! ...and many musicians smoke/vape. They (especially those from a "certain" demographic) must be eliminated!


Who are these people that would like to eliminate me from public view, and thus from having any kind of social life? I don't recall ever giving them permission to denormalize me, my family, or my friends.


Major advances in tobacco control have been achieved in recent years, particularly in countries signing and ratifying the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), adopted in 2003 and ratified as of this writing by more than 170 countries, including the UK in 2004.

Endgame proposals currently under discussion focus on the product, the user, the retail level, and the market system...

Product-centred ideas include regulating nicotine levels to make cigarettes non- or less addictive, redesigning the cigarette to make it unappealing to smoke, banning the commercial sale of combustible tobacco...

....Other options thought worth considering included banning menthol or other flavourings, reducing nicotine content in cigarettes, and banning filters.


..But menthol has been proven to be less risky than it's non -menthol counterpart. Why in the world would they want to make smoking more risky than it already is? ..and how would reducing nicotine in combustible cigarettes equate to a desirable outcome for those who choose to continue on smoking?


Wasn't anti's entire argument against light cigarettes  based on the theory that smokers tend to inhale light cigarettes more deeply (thus increasing the risk) to compensate for the lack of nicotine absorption to the lungs and thus, the brain?


Shouldn't they instead be arguing on behalf of a higher nicotine cigarette that produces little to no tar at all? Better yet, how about arguing in favor of the more modern HnB technology that is finally set to emerge in the 2nd decade of the 21st century? I also find it quite disturbing (and insulting) that they'd suggest that banning filters as an "option". Did they even bother to ask any smokers on how they would feel about that? I'm beginning to think that they want many of my friends and family (myself included) to just up and DIE!!!!


Not coolio.


..and not very democratic.


...and I'm only on page 5 of 79!!


There's more... a lot more.. Here are some of the short and long-term recommendations put forth by the neo-prohibitionists of peace, love, and joy:


Develop, test, and fund a phased, and sustained mass media-campaign....


Lucy Gaston lives!!!



That equates to the further "denormalization" of smokers and non-smokers who vape and use any form tobacco.


..and enhanced tobacco industry monitoring and surveillance programs...


Isn't it (or shouldn't it..) illegal to spy on people without their consent?



Basically, what they are suggesting in this report is the eradication of all forms of tobacco, smoked and not smoked, from the earth!



Not very pragmatic...



I don't know about you, but I don't fancy being labeled a criminal in my old age simply because I like to vape tobacco and e-cigarettes; and I certainly am not ok with the very real possibility of being spied on by extremists simply because I have a blog about smokers'/vapers' rights and harm reduction.



I am already sick and tired of wasting my tax dollars on the failed (world-wide) drug war that we have been waging for over four decades now; expanding on that war is not an option. I vote and I will vote against anybody who threatens to take my life and freedom away.



Make no mistake: the end game is all about making room for more prisoners.



Read on, if you can stomach it:



Tobacco Control Endgames: Global Initiatives and Implications for the UK. Written by Ruth Malone, and colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco-
















Saturday, June 21, 2014

Government sponsored Chi and the New Youth Brigade


In feng shui, as in Chinese medicine, CHI is the term for the universal energy, or the energy that permeates everything around us.-

On a recent trip back to my home of Chicago, I was surprised to see the increasing divide between the haves and the have nots. Gentrification has completely taken over the my old neighborhood, courtesy in part to zoning and the 2007 smoking ban in bars and restaurants. Many of the old bohemian hangouts that I used to patronize have been replaced by upscale restaurants and above my pay scale boutiques.


Contrast that with the West  (and South) side, where there are flashing blue light police cameras on every corner that would make Orwell shiver in his grave if he were to become conscious once again.


There are no fancy diners with shiny, happy people on this side of town, just neglect and an unacceptable crime rate, largely due to a rather large un-employment rate that continues to eviscerate the hopes and dreams of many African American young men. Add to that a bit of anecdotal evidence from an old neighbor who pointed out that the mayor has "re-organized" much of the police force to such an extent that many patrols have been shifted away from many of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods to the city's newly gentrified neighborhoods on the near North and NW sides. Instead of taking police away from one neighborhood to cover another, why doesn't the mayor just hire more police? I'm assuming that it may have a little something to do with budgetary shortfalls. OK, so the city may not have enough money to deal with what is a serious issue, so can't they just borrow some money form the feds in order to make the streets of Chicago a bit safer? Apparently, that is "not in the realm of political possibility".


..enter the purpose and point of this post..


In a time when many Americans are either un/underemployed &/or fed up with a centralized government that has become intent on micromanaging every aspect of our lives, it never ceases to amaze me how much money our federal government continues to allocate to anti-smoking
anti-smokeless/anti-vaping/anti-tobacco campaigns.


OK, so the unemployment rate is unacceptably high in some communities and in others many are under-employed and times are hard, but our elected officials are doing all that they can to help their (largely) proletariat constituency, right?  Well, at least the feds are helping some people in their quest to attain long-term (and stable) employment....


Oh, crime, schime...not to fear, for the Youth Brigade is here to clean up the streets of Chicago once and for all. There will be no more gun shots, no more blight, and shiny new restaurants (with patios for the healthy) on every street corner, all courtesy of your tax dollars and the CDC:


 Who the hell am I talking about anyway?



DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO BE TOBACCO-FREE?

Every student in Chicago deserves to grow up in a tobacco-free city.

CHIDONT is an awareness campaign about tobacco-free environments, created to empower the youth and the city of Chicago to know they deserve to live in a healthy, tobacco-free space.

This website is where the youth of Chicago share their stories and make their voices heard. Here you’ll see other students just like you talking about why they live tobacco-free.

Share your story now:
Use #CHIDONT to share why having tobacco-free environments is important to you.

Made possible with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A tobacco free city. Now, that's a tall order if I've ever heard one. I wonder if they could eliminate the murder problem first. That sure would be nice, for then they could serve as a template for other cities nationwide. Think about it: a night out on the town at your favorite BYOB (I'm cheap) restaurant on the WEST side of Chicago could finally be within the realm of possibilities! Wouldn't that be awesome? I'm certain that the good folks at CHIDONT would agree that it would be  nice to go for a stroll (because walking is healthy) down Chicago Ave. on the west side, wine bottle in hand? Wouldn't it be nice to see small, independent businesses flourish in an area that has been neglected for far too long?  Maybe they'll change their priorities after being enlightened.....



OK, so this is not really about a bunch of high-school aged kids going around campaigning for the eradication of the smoker. It's not even about preventing kids from smoking. It's about a bunch of over-paid bureaucrats with a penchant for hunting down an over-taxed and overly harassed demographic. Put simply, this is about chasing "those people" out of parks that do not fit the definition of "clean cut" and "healthy". Gutter punks, homeless, artists, and "counter-culture (err..me)" folks take note:









..not a smoke-free workplace or even a smoke-free anything....a tobacco-free city is what this government-funded campaign is all about. Good thing that they have all of those Orwellian cameras everywhere, for they can be used to extract more money-via citations and harassment- from those who already don't have enough of it...and from people largely unable to fight back. Genius!


..and they don't merely (they're so humble, these bureaucrats) want the bars, the restaurants, the smoke shops, the universities, or "public" housing, no.....they want it all!
 





...Because only shiny, happy, and presumably "healthy" people pay for the parks.  It belongs to them and to  them only, got that?


Once they succeed at pushing all smokers (young and old alike) out of the parks that have been paid for by everyone (and often via regressive tobacco taxation), surely the belly of the insatiable beast will be filled and content?


Nope, not when there's job security via the demonization of an entire demographic:






When I switched over to vaping tobacco pods last September, I thought that I had finally escaped the wrath of my oppressors. Fat chance. Contrary to whomever devised this silly ad, I DO know what's in my vaporizer: tobacco and food-grade humectants, and sometimes just tobacco. Oh, but nevernind on that, because they probably don't even know what a tobacco vaporizer is, and everyone knows what's in an e-cigarette this point, don't they?


Oh, I really like this next advert..It's quite the catchy slogan that's needed to demonstrate the tolerance of the Neo-Reefer Madness movement of the 21st century, don't ya think? I wonder what ad company they hired to come up with all of this clever branding..? It must have been expensive, for true creativity doesn't come cheap:

....





Somehow I find it hard to believe that a bunch of high school kids are hunched around trying to devise ways to harass baseball players. In fact, I would venture to guess that most kids that age don't even think or talk about smokeless tobacco, let alone their worrying about some 30 year old dude chewing on it in some dugout somewhere. It doesn't even register on their radar, does it?


...because it's their (the special interests and your govt) dugout, ok? Everything belongs to them. You don't count, so get over it. They rule now.


Kinda sounds like communism, or maybe it's crony capitalism gone amok...


Whatever it is, it ain't "Chi".


My definition of Chi is that life-in times of peace-it is an organic amalgamation of seeds that grow to suit the different needs and means of a people that are as varied as the broad American landscape. In other words, the term "different strokes for different folk's" isn't some tired and old euphemism that should be relegated to the dusty past in favor of some new slogan that purports to change the vernacular of the term on its head, it is something that should be celebrated and secured for generations to come.


My Chi isn't sponsored by an overbearing bureaucracy that knows no limits; and it certainly isn't paid for by special interests. My Chi is about being able to go for a walk down a (any) city street without fear of someone sticking a gun in my face or the fear of getting caught in a hailstorm of bullets. It's to be able to assemble with other adults of like mind at the end of the day with a nice glass of wine and my tobacco vaporizer, free of assault and harassment from some bully (courtesy of his new-found confidence, due largely to your campaigns) that is twice my size screaming at me from 100ft away because he doesn't approve of my lifestyle.


My Chi is FREEDOM, which is the only route and method proven to uplift communities. My Chi is choosing where my tax dollars go, and if I have anything to say about it, they won't be going to organizations like CHIDONT for long.


-Chi:  Breathe in, breathe out. Don't let the bullies stress you out.


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