Deep Smoke

Like many other people, I’m sure, I’ve become rather fascinated with the tobacco companies that people like me are supposed to be in league with. So I was rather intrigued several weeks back when I heard from someone who had actually worked in a tobacco company for several years, who was offering to answer a few of the questions that I (and several of my commenters) had been asking about them. The following set of questions and answers were the result, and I was also required to disguise the author’s highly distinctive style of writing – which meant taking the word ‘Jimmy’ out of almost every sentence (I hope I’m not giving anything away there), and to point out that these represent just one person’s opinions from working in an industry in which ideas and attitudes can change very rapidly.

So here’s the result. Deep Smoke speaks:

What is the attitude of tobacco companies to their customers? Indifference /contempt /concern?

Like any other company, they want to make money. This can’t be done if you’re indifferent to or feel contempt for your customers. So they actually care a lot what their customers want. Research and surveys are often done, where it’s legal anyway, in order to understand what adult smokers like. I’ll just add that a lot of time and money is spent on trying to prevent kids from smoking and also that none of the products target children. Modern big tobacco company do indeed care very much about youth smoking prevention. Forty years ago, it may have been different, but now big tobacco is ultimately trying to give adults a product that they’ll want to buy.

What is their attitude to their product? Love it/hate it?

Depends who you ask. The best way to answer this is to say that the people who work for tobacco companies generally feel that adults should make their own choices. Everyone knows there are risks associated with tobacco use. As you might expect there are plenty of non-smokers that work for tobacco companies and while they may be passionate about working for the company and allowing adults to make their own choices, they can still be completely against smoking themselves. Some have no compunction about telling people to quit smoking. Overall, I would think the vast majority of employees are somewhat indifferent to the product. Some are very passionate about it. The big push these days is for harm reduction. Can cigarettes be made safer?

What is their attitude to the antismoking research of the past half century? Belief/disbelief?

It’s a mixture. Most of the research done by Tobacco Control is inaccurate and unscientific, and easily debunked by truly independent research. Except that when it is debunked, of course the media pay it no attention. They quote the false research as if it were fact. You can well imagine how frustrating that is. Some of the research is factual and evidence-based, but the facts and results are then distorted to support the particular agenda of tobacco control.

What is their attitude to the ever-encroaching nanny state? Indifference/deep concern?

They’re very concerned. And also they have a grim sense of resignation that the nanny state will win the long term battle.

They think it is because history shows that it’s what happens time and again. Yet people fail to remember history, and history duly repeats itself. Prohibition is cyclical. It swings into popular favour for a time, and then it swings out of favour. Everything is cyclical to some extent.

The people in charge of tobacco companies have to answer to their stakeholders and shareholders. They have to show a profit. Business is always about making money. I can’t underline that enough. And that’s true for both sides in this war. The antis want to make money just as much as the tobacco companies do. The difference is that the antis are trying to control our lives. Tobacco companies are at least honest in that they just want you to buy their tobacco. The problem with tobacco companies is too much focus on the short term gains, not enough focus on the long term view. They haven’t won any major battles for a decade. It’s kinda like being in a losing football team. You know you’re gonna lose most of the time, but you keep playing just for the money.

I’d be interested to know if the tobacco majors:
1) Routinely visit pro-smoking sites like mine?

No. Tobacco companies routinely monitor sites that are illegally selling their wares or using their trade marks on other products (like cigarette cases, t-shirts, etc.) On the other hand, the marketing departments are constantly looking out for new sources of inspiration, trying to get a feel for what adults want. But they aren’t visiting pro-smoking sites. They will see what other companies are doing, what is popular, and see if that can be used. It’s about appealing to the market. For instance, Russians love anything that is technological, so you’ll see brands with hi-tech packs. It really IS NOT about getting kids to smoke. It’s about getting smokers to switch to their brands.

2) If so do they use humans or do they use robots?

Humans. Lots of humans. It’s legwork, essentially. Mainly law firms, but also internal legal departments, too. Most of the investigative work is done by the anti-counterfeit / illicit trading groups. Those guys work with the police to shut down the counterfeiters. They actually go on raids, sometimes. The anti-counterfeit groups usually inform the legal groups.

3) What, if anything, do they do with any information gained?

Nothing, unless someone’s breaking the law. There really isn’t enough hours in a day to do all that needs to be done. It’s a busy environment. Imagine dealing with the laws in every country of the world every day, trying to work out what you can and can’t do, or an endless barrage of lawsuits. It’s not easy. The legal bills for tobacco companies are enormous.

4) Does your contact have any juicy stuff on the antis?

No. Only that all of the antis own stocks in tobacco companies so that they can disrupt shareholder meetings, which they do regularly. Also, the ASH protests are usually only 6 or 7 people, mainly kids, or their family members and friends. There is no real public support for tobacco control activism. The antis are not a large group. It’s a selection of about twelve key people in the UK, and maybe another 100 or so worldwide, not including the WHO of course. The WHO drives almost all of the activism. But I do think that TC has family and friends who work in the media, or has something to do with journnalists in the media…. so if you wonder why the media is always against us, this could be a reason…..

And the question I didn’t ask.

Why are Big Tobacco losing? I think the reason why it’s difficult for Big T to win any battles against TC is because all of the companies are fighting each other instead. There is a long history of animosity between all of the companies, big and small. If only they could come together for a short time and agree on a strategy, things might actually go their way. But they can’t. Each company has a different take on how to deal with TC, and they won’t budge an inch, and they ultimately undermine each other in the process, trying to get an increased market share. That is the most frustrating thing and it is the nature of all businesses unfortunately. Which is one reason the fight against the display ban was given up.

I’m sure that if anyone has any other questions, Deep Smoke would be more than happy to answer them to the best of his/her ability.

If you have any questions, please write them in blue ink and put them inside a seemingly-discarded packet of Pall Mall Blue, and carefully wedge it between the railings outside Number 22, Lansdowne Crescent, Kensington, London between 1:30 am and 1:45 am on Thursday nights, before walking briskly away without looking back.

Or alternatively, should that prove to be slightly inconvenient, leave them in the comments below, and we’ll see if we can get someone to drop them off there.

About Frank Davis

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38 Responses to Deep Smoke

  1. jaxthefirst says:

    Interesting point about various anti-smoking groups holding large stocks in tobacco companies. Should this therefore debar those groups from taking part in tobacco policy consultations for having “links with the tobacco industry,” just as they are suggesting that the likes of Unite, the CBI and Freedom2Choose should be? I would have thought that having a financial interest in the profitability of the tobacco industry is a far stronger link than some of the very tenuous ones mentioned in ASH’s recent document. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of Deep Smoke giving some examples of which organisations hold which stocks and maybe how many (if he knows)? Some facts and figures such as this would, I suggest, be of great interest to many supporters of Tobacco Control who may not suspect for a second that some of their comrades-in-arms have such – err – “interesting” vested interests.

    Some names of the “12 key people” in tobacco control would be useful too, for the purpose of spotting their involvement in media stories and for research purposes …

    • Frank Davis says:

      I think the key word here is “key”. If you look at the numbers of people who attend Tobacco Control conferences, they run into the hundreds. There are a lot of them, and they’re all employed, at taxpayers’ expense. A very old friend of mine turned out to be one of them.

      I can believe that the WHO is the main driver. Dr W – the first antismoker I ever came across in the 1960s – worked for the WHO at one point in his life.

      I came across his obituary a few months ago, and I’m in 2 minds whether to publish it. Firstly because he’s dead. And secondly because his family acted as my guardians while my parents were living in Brazil. And thirdly because my first girlfriend ever was his eldest daughter.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        Frank you ol chip off the block,good for you on the first girlfriend……..hope she was foxy!

  2. Mr A says:

    What jax said – both good points.

  3. harleyrider1978 says:

    Im still waiting on my check from big tobacco!

  4. Pingback: Other people’s stuff. | underdogs bite upwards

  5. sadbutmadlad says:

    @Jax, you don’t need to hold large stocks. Even a single share is enough to get you into a shareholder meeting.

    The only surprising things about the info for me was a) that they are so set on seeing what smokers want, but don’t visit pro-smokers sites and b) they fight each other rather than the common enemy.

    On visiting pro-sites, I suppose they see such sites as more activism rather than market research material.

    On the in-fighting, it does explain why TC seems to win. They are more organised even though smaller. Part of the reason why TC get the media attention is because anything issued by the state is parroted out by churnalists. I doubt it’s through friends/family; not to be able to do it across all the MSM. Anything that is banned always gets press, be it banning tanning beds or pork pies.

    TC work on the fact that journalists don’t do any real work any more, so can blind them with fake science and false facts. They use the rule get in first with the figures because countering them is always very difficult and the newspaper is fish&chip paper by then.

  6. Sandra Jean says:

    Extracts from some of the answers:
    1. Like any other company, they want to make MONEY.
    2. Business is always about making MONEY. I can’t underline that enough.
    3. The antis want to make MONEY just as much as the tobacco companies do.
    4. Trying to get an increased market share.

    MONEY is the key word.

    As for “All of the antis own stocks in tobacco companies so that they can disrupt shareholder meetings, which they do regularly”. That’s not the main reason they own stocks. They earn MONEY. What a nice little smoke screen they’ve concocted to justify owning stock.

    TC is not about ‘health’ its about MONEY and the big boys in TC are earning plenty of it. Governments are throwing MONEY at TC. Big Pharmas providing NRT probably have the big boys in TC as their biggest shareholders.

    We’re led to believe that TC is all about health. Health? are they serious. Follow the MONEY.

  7. smokingscot says:

    Thank you for including my questions.

    O/T. Watched the business update on CCTV 9 this morning. Eurozone countries achieved some growth over the 1st quarter of 2012. Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium all grew at a rate that dragged the whole grouping into “growth”.

    Those 3 countries all have one thing in common. No total smoking ban.

    Speaks volumes, though Osborne & Cable are tuned to another frequency…. sadly..

  8. lecroixkwdjer says:

    Perhaps your best work yet, Frank. Fascinating inside view. I must make time to let it all soak in, translate and repost in FB (with your permission, I hope).

    On a lighter note, I too hope she was foxy. Way to go. :)

  9. prog says:

    Well done Frank.

    What we really need now is an insider from TC (probably have to pay them though…)

  10. Jay says:

    Ha, ha! Deep Smoke. That’s great!

    If tobacco companies cannot seem to work together, maybe we need to try to persuade them to do so. We are the consumers after all. I don’t know how best to get it done though; there are a few pro-tobacco lobby groups already — the TMA which supposedly represents the industry but the government shuns it entirely, FOREST which represents consumers primarily and also shunned, etc. Do we need a non-industry funded group formed and run by consumers only to lobby the industry itself as well as government? Would that get any play at all? We would require some media-savvy folk at the very least. Just planting seeds here…

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    The appeal of ‘forbidden’ cigarettes

    Hiding cigarettes under the counter will only make them more appealing to young people.
    One of the principal goals of plain packaging for cigarettes, an idea in the proposed revision of the tobacco-product directive, is to reduce use of tobacco by minors (“A plain message to smokers”, 19-25 April). To achieve that goal, the message delivered to under-age potential smokers must be clear and accessible.

    Instead, the proposals go in the opposite direction: the intention is to hide the product from customers’ sight by placing it under the counter. The risk is that young people will be more fascinated by cigarettes, since they are particularly susceptible to things that are hidden or forbidden.

    In addition, generic packaging is easy to reproduce. This favours illicit trade, which in turn flourishes because its products are sold at a lower price. Illicit products elude quality checks. There is a danger that young people will become more interested in tobacco – and will be able to satisfy that interest more cheaply.

    Lastly, only 23% of respondents in the consultation felt the benefits would be greater than the negative effects.

    Giovanni Risso

    Chairman, Confédération Européennedes Détaillants en Tabac

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Another freedom fighter enjoying freedom gets the shaft in england!

    STAFF at an award-winning St Helens pub have been prosecuted after their premises breached smoke-free laws.

    John Ruffell, Ian Smith and Gillian Smith – all of the Masons Arms pub in Billinge – failed to stop members of the public lighting up in a substantially enclosed area and, on two occasions, failed to display no smoking signage.

    Knowsley Magistrates’ Court heard last week how a large wooden shed-style smoking shelter had been built outside the Masons Arms following the implementation of smoke-free legislation in July 2007.

    But, despite repeated requests from environmental health officers for the landlords to make the shelter compliant, it was never modified until the case went to court.

    Magistrates ordered that the defendants each contribute £200 towards St Helens Council’s prosecution costs.

    The law to protect people from smoking in public places is seen as the most important public health legislation to be introduced in decades – protecting employees from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

    Prior to the implementation of the smoke free law it was estimated that exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace caused around 617 premature deaths in the UK each year.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    Up in smoke: more in SA lighting up illegally
    Government, business lose billions to growing trade in illicit cigarettes, writes Annaleigh Vallie

    These idiots at NBC dont even realise this run on banks is the beginning of the end of their socialist world
    A TIGHTER control of borders and harsher penalties were needed to curb the “alarming” rise in the trade of contraband cigarettes in SA.

    This is according to British American Tobacco (BAT) SA MD Brian Finch. He said the incidence of this trade has almost doubled over the past three years.

    Last year about 77,5-billion cigarettes were sold illegally in SA, up from 6-billion in 2010. As 25% of the total cigarette market, this by far exceeds the global average of between 8% and 12%, said BAT.About 80% of the illegal cigarettes comes from Zimbabwe.

    The government, BAT said, lost about R4bn in unpaid taxes (excise and VAT) last year and more than R3bn in 2010 as a result of the illegal trade in cigarettes, while legitimate retailers lose more than R500m annually.

    Mr Finch attributed the rise in this illegal trade to the economic downturn that has adversely affected consumers’ disposable income, forcing them to downgrade to cheaper products.

    “While we acknowledge and commend the effort that government is putting into combating illicit trade in cigarettes, a lot more still needs to be done,” Mr Finch said.

    “Law enforcers should ensure that the period between investigations and the actual prosecutions of illicit traders is shorter than it currently is, and that the penalties are also harsher than they currently are.”

    South African Revenue Service (SARS) spokesman Adrian Lackay, who disputes that the situation is as described by BAT, said both BAT and the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (Tisa) had regular interactions with government and could raise the need for policy changes at any time.

    “It is factually incorrect to say the trade in illicit cigarettes has increased. In SARS compliance programme published last month we outline this illicit trade as a key focus point for us,” he said. Mr Lackay said SARS confiscated illicit goods often and had a much tighter control of borders since 1994.

    The compliance programme is an overview of SARS’ plans for the next five years to grow compliance with tax and customs legislation. It focuses on seven key areas that include the undervaluation of imports in the clothing and textile industries, and trade in illicit cigarettes. During the past financial year, SARS has made more than 20000 seizures of goods to the value of about R1bn including about R100m worth of contraband cigarettes, the document says.

    SARS said its interventions “will continue to focus on clamping down on cigarettes smuggled via warehouses as well as the diversion of cigarettes destined for export back into the local market. “We also plan to modernise our warehousing management systems “, it said.Tisa’s Francois van der Merwe said government would need to have a holistic approach to solving the illicit trade problem. “The health and agriculture departments also need to get involved. There isn’t one silver bullet to tackle the growth of this problem,” he said.

    “Despite the health department’s best efforts to curb smoking, it has increased and even though the legal cigarette trade has been declining, the illegal incidence had risen,” he said. Mr Van der Merwe said SA’s higher tax structure when compared to neighbouring countries also contributed to illicit trade. “Duties on tobacco products have risen 1350% since 1994, whereas the illicit trade was non-existent prior to 1994, it is now almost 26% of the market.”

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    Somehow the comments ran together,I must have done it frank.

  15. Frank Davis says:

    I’ve just heard from someone in F2C who said that they’d found out that they were being monitored by Big Tobacco.

    Which kinda makes sense, really. You’re not going to ignore people who are talking about you, are you? And if Big Tobacco can spend zillions on legal stuff, it certainly can spend a couple of dimes keeping an eye on places like F2C and Forces and the blogs.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Deep Smoke has been back in contact about this to say that social networking sites are usually blocked by Big Tobacco, and people can only visit them from home. But they do keep an eye out for when a brand name is mentioned, in case of infringement of Intellectual Property rights.

  16. SteveW says:

    Can we assume that one of the groups which hold shares in the major tobacco companies is ASH?
    If so, would they be required to declare to their funders that some of those funds were to be used to support the tobacco industry?

    • michaeljmcfadden says:

      LOL! Steve, LOVE it!! Actually they’re probably pretty “clean” in that regard, but I’m sure that if they were being held to the same standards they hold others to that there’d be chinks in that armor (E.G. do they ever hire a lawyer who once worked for a firm that had another lawyer who represented a group of tobacco farmers in some case or other? That sort of thing is used to incriminate folks on our side, so why not on theirs? Plus, of course, many of the US antismoking groups get paid directly from Big Tobacco with the MSA funds after they’re laundered through the Big Mob (i.e. the government.)

      – MJM

  17. “I’ll just add that a lot of time and money is spent on trying to prevent kids from smoking and also that none of the products target children.”
    It’s true that young people are smoking much less now, but the real problem is: what they are using instead? And instead they are using ‘chems’: xtz, lcd, spid, hbl, etc…. How many people I already watched dying from hbl with my own eyes. All this bullshit about prevention is nothing but hypocrisy! I think it would be better they would smoke tobacco.

    • Jay says:

      Most kids are smoking weed instead. And why wouldn’t you? One of the many reasons I smoke is because it was a lot harder to get weed than cigarettes. Curiously, when I smoke weed I don’t smoke nearly as many cigarettes….

  18. beobrigitte says:

    Only that all of the antis own stocks in tobacco companies so that they can disrupt shareholder meetings, which they do regularly. Also, the ASH protests are usually only 6 or 7 people, mainly kids, or their family members and friends.

    Why haven’t tobacco companies addressed the issue of anti-smokers (e.g. ?all 10 members of ASH) owning shares in their businesses without ever declaring this “conflict” of interest when publishing articles/research which falsely attributes illnesses/deaths to tobacco smoke?
    Perhaps this is a legal bill worthwhile paying!!!! Perhaps, for the time being, tobacco companies could start thinking of putting their differences aside (at the end of the day they all lose out if they allow the anti-smoking ghost train to continue on it’s path) and unite to stop this utter nonsense.
    I, for one, will buy tobacco from a company who appreciates my custom.

    We smokers can do something: buy some shares in a tobacco company and go to share holder’s meetings to disrupt the anti-smokers disrupting the meetings.

    It really IS NOT about getting kids to smoke. It’s about getting smokers to switch to their brands.
    Of course it’s not about getting kids to smoke; kids are poor, they rely on cash from parents or they scrounge from others. Who wants them as customers?

  19. michaeljmcfadden says:

    Frank you wrote, “If you look at the numbers of people who attend Tobacco Control conferences, they run into the hundreds. There are a lot of them, and they’re all employed, at taxpayers’ expense. ”

    Not just the hundreds Frank. Dunno about more recent ones, but they held one in Chicago several years ago that cost ten million dollars and had over 5,000 attendees. Of course most of the conference participants were probably able to write off the ticket costs and other expenses on the taxpayers through the funding from their groups: that’s an advantage we ourselves don’t have unfortunately or we’d be able to run conferences like that too.

    Now there’s an idea for “Deep Smoke” : the tobacco industry should consider ways of funding conferences to be run by groups like F2C, Forces, TICAP et al. The funding would obviously have to be totally “hands off” and fully public, and they’d have to sacrifice any control over any form of content, but if they did it the right way, and quite assertively bent over backwards to both make it public AND “no-strings attached,” it might be possible to do it without the “taint” of BigT money hurting the results or the groups that worked with them. The lack of strings might result in some things that were negative for them (e.g. panels on e-cigarettes or growing and/or rolling your own tobacco smokes) but overall the results would probably be enough in their favor that it would make sense as a corporate investment decision.

    The main problem is whether the Free Choice groups working with such funding and/or on such a conference could survive the association — no matter how pure, innocent, transparent, limited, guarded, etc etc it might be. The mud would still be slung, and the gullible media would transmit the mud as having equal importance to whatever results/content such projects might produce. It’s perfectly fine for an antismoking conference to be heavily sponsored (with LOTS of “strings attached”) by the Big Pharma makers of the NicoGummyPatchyProducts, but the same rules of course wouldn’t be applied fairly when it comes to our side of the aisle. Generally I’d guess that any contribution to our side that BigT would ever make would have to be “discounted” by a factor of at least 2 to 1, and more likely about 10 to 1, in terms of its eventual effectiveness. I.E. if F2C got 10,000 pounds from “United British Charity Foundation” it would probably do them just as much good as if they’d gotten 20,000 or even 100,000 from Imperial Tobacco since the tobacco industry “taint” would “damage” whatever they did with the money — as well as damaging their future efforts. Just look at how they like to scream about Gian Turci once going to a TC conference at his own expense and suggesting the idea that Forces and the industry should even THINK about working together in some way in the future!

    I think it’s what you blokes call “a sticky wicket.”


  20. irocyr says:

    Tobacco companies are visiting pro-choice sites. They visit the CAGE blog frequently. CAGE was even offered money (bread crumbs) to help us out with our work. It came during a time where we desperately needed it to legally fight libellous allegations. We found it best to refuse in order to remain totally independent both from industry and government. We paid for the court fees with the help of members and out of our own pocket. When CAGE was first created, the founders were naive enough to think that they could accept tobacco industry money and asked them to help us out. The tobacco industry itself refused telling the founders (the Romano brothers) that it would be foolish because it would take away any credibility from us. They were right. Even without any ties or funding whatsoever from the tobacco industry we are still being slandered and libelled as tobacco stooges.

    Big Tobacco is watching us but quite frankly they don’t have the same preoccupations as we the consumers. While we fight bans, bans don’t hurt the tobacco industry. Smoking prevalence did not go down any faster than it used to and as a matter of fact it slowed down and even stagnated where comprehensive bans were introduced. They fight contraband. Contraband doesn’t hurt consumers. As a matter of fact it creates a price war that is always profitable to consumers. They fight plain packs because (and I don’t blame them) they want to be able to compete with each other. Except for the principle which I am fighting tooth and nail, plain packs don’t hurt consumers. Attractive fancy cases can get around the gory messages. They kowtow to the public health messages to protect their shares that would otherwise shrink because of the controversy and to win individual law-suits under the premise that they were warned and if they got a disease due to smoking it’s their own personal fault. Kowtowing to the public health messages hurts us the consumers when we try to expose the junk science only to see it thrown right at our face that even the tobacco industry admits to the harms.

    Frankly, the tobacco industry has absolutely nothing in common with us in this fight and to be accused of being tobacco industry pawns by the tobacco control industry is ignorant and laughable at best.

    • michaeljmcfadden says:

      Iro, I agree with 99% of what you say, except for the apart about them having no interest in common with us. I believe that in the long run (i.e. over the next 20 to 30 years) the Antismokers will basically destroy the worldwide tobacco industry as it presently stands. Cigarettes will still be produced and smoked, but it will be done completely through nationalized/controlled industry with the tastes/qualities/prices adjusted so as to bring the maximum income to the governments (under the pretext of “reducing smoking through price”) while balancing that against the cost of lives/personnel costs/imprisonment for controlling the black market.

      It will all be done in the name of “the public good,” and it may even have some beneficial worldwide health effects (I happen to be one of those here who believe that smoking IS somewhat bad for people’s health in general.) …. BUT… it will be at a tremendous social cost. I believe that social cost far outweighs any possible potential health benefit, and that’s why I feel justified in fighting this fight. But from the tobacco industry’s standpoint, on a purely monetary “We want power and money and we have a duty to our shareholders.” viewpoint, I believe their longer term interests match with ours in some ways: without us they are doomed.

      Part of the problem though is that corporations tend not to think real well nowadays once you start talking about anything more than five or ten years in the future. “It’s not my job.” is the attitude that I believe many of those execs and bookkeepers have. They base their actions more on what kind of “returns” those actions will produce in the next five to ten years and let the devil take what comes afterward. They’re no more good nor evil than any other corporations out there in general. Do they produce a product that kills? I’d say so. But so do the McWhopperies or any of the big auto manufacturers. But just as with those other corporations they produce a product that people want and a product that a great number of people enjoy.

      Whenever the subject has come up in discussions over the years, I’ve generally been on the side of “Stay away from tobacco money!” — but it’s been largely because of that “discount” problem. If Big Tobacco were willing to give Free Choice groups five times as much as the Antismokers spend, I could see it being a worthwhile thing to think about. But the smaller amounts that would ever likely be considered just aren’t worth it: the credibility and impact we’d lose would generally just be too great to be worth the trade off.

      Still, I think it would be worthwhile for BigT to be putting a lot more money than it has into groups like FOREST, Mon Choix, the US’s “National Smokers Association” of years past, etc. As long as they kept all the funding aboveboard and public, and as long as they committed themselves to a long term hands-off-&-no-strings investment so it would be clear that the groups were free to take their own stands without fears of repercussion on the limited points where they might go against BigT’s short term interests, I think such a thing would work out to their ultimate benefit. But are they likely to ever make such a choice? I doubt it.

      – MJM

  21. mark says:

    Its a great shame the tobacco companies will not work together even for a short period of time.This way tobacco could still win battles on behalf of its customers against Ash and Big Tobacco control. That is whats needed.

  22. timbone says:

    Thanks Frank. A good read

  23. markw says:

    “If you have any questions, please write them in blue ink and put them inside a seemingly-discarded packet of Pall Mall Blue, and carefully wedge it between the railings outside Number 22, Lansdowne Crescent, Kensington, London between 1:30 am and 1:45 am on Thursday nights, before walking briskly away without looking back…” very humorous Frank

    All kidding aside could you ask Deep Smoke why the Tobacco Companies won’t fight the shs claims using tobacco control’s own air quality testing which proves that shs is NOT a workplace health hazard?

  24. Ross says:

    It’s perhaps 20 yrs ago or more that I took a week to transfer to RYO tobacco instead of “tailor-mades”, as they used to be called, now “factory made”, at least by anti-tobacco; in the first few days I thought “give me a REAL cigarette”, but by the end of the week, the (and visibly!) better quality of tobacco, and the cleaner burning separately bought papers had won me over, and so it is today; now, a “tailor-made” (reflecting the ‘glamour’ packaging and encasing) feels like a shotgun, on the extremely rare (once every year or two or three, offered under social politeness duress circumstances and only if I happen to be out without my own!) times I might accept one – and it’s still generally distasteful, even better brands or blends, simply because of the chemical-drenched paper (potassium &or sodium citrate these days, I understand, not the old-fashioned idea of ‘saltpetre’!) that keeps them burning… even if you rest it in an ashtray.

    Which smells (and tastes) foul. And this is easily demonstrated.

    In fact, I’m certain that the main objection non-smokers have (& in my experience, justifiably!) to “cigarettes” (understanding that as the common ‘tailor/factory-made’ type) in the open air even, let alone in an enclosed room, is in fact to the smell of the PAPER burning, not the tobacco.

    If I get a chance in circumstances where both are available, I’ll make a point of demonstrating this; it’s easy, and experientally undeniable: I’ve shown Asians (where RYO seems almost unknown – I mean SE Asia, Pacific Rim, not the weird British idea of “Asians”!) in a German airport, and local young people smoking tailor-mades who are unaware, and the response has always been unequivocal – the smell of the tailor-made paper burnt alone is appalling!

    So here’s how you do it: Take a (any, the paper seems as bad from cheap to luxury) commercial “tailor-made” cigarette (except for really proper quality like say Shermans, who do care – never had the pleasure or privilege of trying!) and:

    Break off the filter. Slit (roughly with fingernails if nowt else) the paper tube so that the tobacco spills on to a clean surface (you can re-roll it with a clean-burning RYO paper later to compare).

    Examine the quality, while you have it there, of the chopped tobacco leaf, reconstituted tobacco sheet (they waste nothing, collecting the dust & re-making) and puffed up (like rice bubbles!) chopped stalk that comprises the gram or so of tobacco from your expensive tailor/factory-made glamour-packaged cigarette – or your acquaintance, if you are the one with the quality RYO tobacco – observe how dry and stale it is too, depending on age & insubstantial packaging – there is a reason that pipe tobacco came in vaccuum sealed tins – and then…

    Take that roughly separated paper, hold at a vertical diagonal, and light the bottom corner.

    You will observe a slowly glowing edge, and quite a lot of smoke.

    Wave that under ANY persons nose, even your own, as a hardened smoker, and I guarantee instant recoil. Involuntary recoil. It’s ugly smelly poisonous-seeming distasteful.

    And this is what non-smokers even (let alone anti) experience around a tailor-made smoker.

    Now, compare (and this is where it might get tricky, detailed, country & brand to country) your clean-burning RYO paper.

    [Unfortunately, country to country, some are clean-burning (a Zig-Zag mention) but in others, not. Local RYO smoker knowledge overseas helped me there. Some RYO papers *also* have the dreaded chemical accelerant, and this test will sort them out… ]

    Taking a truly clean-burning RYO paper, holding it the same way, lighting the bottom corner, you’ll observe a “whoomph”, almost no smoke, no ash, complete combustion and self extinguishing, all over in a moment. No smell, no ash. No offense. NO OFFENSE!

    Yet that same paper, rolled around decent quality fine-cut RYO tobacco – allows you to rest it for several, even many relaxed minutes, if tobacco teased out right, almost appearing to have gone out, yet be able to be puffed up again when taken up, or, by the same token, if left a little longer, to have it just go out – and be easily re-lit – thus saving you expense, whether intentionally or accidentally left un-attended.

    And so, a decent RYO is fire safe too. It will go out, perhaps after some minutes, but doesn’t have a built-in chemical accelerant. (which tastes and smells foul!)
    And it doesn’t need the additional “RIP” chemicals on chemicals bands added.

    This is an issue that in my opinion deserves urgent examination and inspection.

    I recall reading tobacco legacy documents, decades old, where surprise was expressed (within the company) that “people didn’t like the smell”.

    Perhaps this was the beginning of that. I’m sorry i can’t reference it just now.

    While it’s understandable that, like breakfast cereal (popped grains & etc.) manufacturers, tobacco cigarette manufacturers want to maximise their profit for their shareholders, and over decades have focused on that, developing such sophisticated techniques in tailor-made cigarette manufacturing, they, or some at least, have also kept alive traditions of pipe tobacco and quality RYO tobacco manufacture… (regrettably, some of the cheapest RYO brands have accelerant chemicals IN THE TOBACCO! – really ugly!) … so, I wish to, I’d like to suggest:

    Whoever starts marketing a tailor-made cigarette (not that I want one!) with chemical-free, clean-burning paper – that might go on for a short time, otherwise just go out and be able to be nicely and cleanly re-lit – will, might well – have a winner in said market.

    It ought to pass fire-safe regs as well, simply because it doesn’t keep burning – it goes out.

    It’s been sheer greed on the tobacco companies part that they have put those chemicals into the papers. Really disgusting sheer greed. Just to keep it burning, when you put it down.

    At today’s (and even yesterday’s) prices, that’s no longer an option…

    People, do you forget, do like to just have a puff or two, and rest their cigarette.

    It’s shonky greed to make a cigarette self-burning when non-puffed… in my opinion!

    Imagine a whisky or whiskey that self-evaporated if you didn’t drink it quickly enough…

    So, that’s been a major self-destructive mistake, IMO, on their part.

    Because of the greedy “let’s keep em burning” idea, implemented, the whole supposed and even more chemical-drenched “RIP” fire-safety standards have come in… more poison.

    Well, enough…

    I’d really like to suggest that TC’s immediately put & pour resources into making cigarettes with clean-burning, rice paper, self-extinguishing non-chemical wrappers – before even the chance to advertise “clean-burning” is taken from them… and wake up to the fact that perhaps this is not just a corporate war for the nicotine market with Big Pharma, but that there may be sinister background global governance forces arising… if new cigarettes without the ghastly external smell became commonplace, if people didn’t have their investment burn away even when they just put it down briefly to talk or dance, that they tasted and smelled nice outside as well as inside… then maybe there’s a chance that they survive.

    I’d also hope that the real, RYO and pipe tobacco arts are kept alive.
    (I know ought about cigars, but assume the same!)

    Because we’re entering into a dark period – it’s obvious – and my thought here is, if I can just alert people and the manufacturers to the fact that almost ALL “tailor-made” cigarettes smell stinky, inevitably taste somewhat stinky, and will always annoy even non let alone anti-smokers because of those damn chemicals, whereas decent RYO & pipe tobacco etc is considerably less offensive, even to some outsiders pleasant, of that perception, then maybe we can instigate some changes…

    If nothing changes, a downward spiral is still down.

    Get a grip, TOBACCO COMPANIES!

    You’re being fought by Big Pharma in a war for the human desire for nicotine market.
    I don’t either believe it’s addictive – it isn’t, clinically – it’s desirable, like coffee.
    It has benefits in mental cognition, etc. etc.

    It’s been part of western humanity for 500 yrs plus.

    I wouldn’t like teetotal tea drinkers in ascendant politically to outlaw coffee…
    It’s all very Lilliputian in some aspects.

    But behind the mere obvious commercial corruption of WHO ASH & etc, by Big Pharma input, I suspect that there are other deeper global influence campaigns in play…

    To survive at all, tobacco companies should challenge these “public global health” assertions, in terms of evidence and lies, I think, but also I believe come down off their high horse vis-a-vis the profit motive of making cigarettes that burn out whether you puff or not, and destroy the atmosphere around them; in short, get rid of the chemicals, and make a clean cigarette for the popular user as well as PLEASE! keeping the old traditions of tobacco alive – from cigar to pipe to quality roll-your-own – if new world government healthist medico control bureaus are set up to make it all in to pills for the deemed addicted, then it would be a dark age…

  25. Pingback: Deep Smoke 2 | Frank Davis

  26. michaeljmcfadden says:

    Ross, I switched to RYO about ten years ago and strongly agree with your thoughts in general! At some point I’m going to try your “paper” experiment as well, although on a superficial level it seems unlikely that the quantity of paper involved compared to the quantity of tobacco involved in a cigarette would have that much of an effect. Still, certainly worth trying!


    • Ross says:

      Michael, thanks for the response, and apologies for the delayed reply !

      It really does have an effect; rather quantity of chemical in paper or not vs quantity of paper vs tobacco, I remind you;- but do try various for yourself, & against standard made cigarettes paper.

      My note re various brands (say ZigZag) in various markets; when I was in Germany visiting a friend, he advised me against the local (half vs double) Zigzag variant on this basis, preferring the French OCB brand. In NZ, Zigzag is very clean-burning rice paper, but evidently the product is different in different countries; the local German product indeed tasted foul and proved so in the simple burn-observe-smell test outlined above;- and I realised he was right.

      You have plenty of choice in the US, especially with the stoners in on the act!

      Just try – what brand of papers do you use now? – a clean-burning RYO paper against any stripped TM/FM commercial cigarette paper – it should be pretty obvious, experientially.
      Only be aware that a few RYO papers aren’t so clean. Try for yourself!

      on a brief search…

    • Ross says:

      It was a deeply impassioned post, more than one bottle of wine, and several (Dark /Negro Domingo – Spanish, I think!) RYO cigarettes worth – the kind of post that I’m almost afraid to look at the next day, thinking I may have been far too outre; – so thanks for the reply!

      Do try comparing – you maybe surprised!

      ~ Ross

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