If You Don’t Stock Your Cellar Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

I’m sure you have heard the expression “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. I often worry because not a week goes by when I don’t hear a rumor of some sort, waring of impending doom. Companies that may go out of business. Tobaccos that won’t be available anymore. Or the outright ban of pipe tobacco is just around the corner. It’s all taken with a grain of salt, although I have to admit that after awhile it starts to get to you. Sometimes I actually worry. Also, every once in awhile the person passing along the information to me is credible, a source that should be taken seriously.

While I’m not to the point where I would go around warning that the sky is falling or have indisputable verified evidence so that I can share what I’ve heard. I do think prudence might be the order of the day.

I wouldn’t recommend going into off the grid Prepper mode just yet, but you might keep it in the back of your mind for non-pipe smoking reasons. However, I would say to you that to not think about the fact that tobacco is under attack at all, or ignore the fact completely, is not a good plan.

The plan that I have followed for the last 30 years is one of aging tobacco. Every time I bought tobacco, whether on line or from a brick and mortar, I’ve always got an extra tin for the cellar. After some time it got to the point where you can draw from the cellar and what you buy is just replacing what you took from stock. The only time new tobacco is smoked is when you want to try something new.

Of course, we are talking about tobaccos that are properly cellared (possibly a topic for a future article), not blends that are purchased in a pouch that is intended to be smoked in the near future like Capt. Black blends or Velvet. Even bulk blends are divided into jars and put away.

Happy Accident

Building a cellar this way is what people have done in the past and it’s worked out quite well. It never crossed one’s mind thirty years ago that the accumulated tobacco on hand might be all you will have to smoke for the rest of your life. If it had crossed my mind I believe the cellar might look a little different than it does now. I also think it would have been deeper in some areas.

After the slip and fall Lawyers destroyed the tobacco companies in court, that’s when I started to worry. I knew it was only a matter of time before they came for us.

It has just been a happy accident that my cellar was already established. Starting over would be very upsetting or even worse, to be put in a position where the blends I want to cellar are no longer available or so cost prohibitive that I wouldn’t be able to buy much.

Aging / Hoarding

We are at the point where people put tobacco away as a hedge against the future just as much as they do to age it. It’s a fine line between cellaring for age and hording. One is what an aficionado does, the other is what someone who is paranoid does. Or so I thought.

Are people’s fears justified? Every bit of news always goes in one direction, that of loosing your freedom. The government has enormous power and they love to use it. If they told people “go ahead, do what you want”, there would be no power there. Better for them to tell you no, or to come after what you want. That way you grovel. Companies spend money to try to influence lawmakers. Backs get slapped and dinners get bought. Just the way government pigs like it. Your Liberty never crosses their minds.

Don’t want to just pick on politicians and bureaucrats. People who would agree with me are also somewhat to blame. It’s natural for people to think of themselves first and as long as they are being left alone to lay low. Thinking to themselves, “I’m glad it’s not me”. When the government decided to do everything it could to go after cigarette manufacturers, for the most part, if someone didn’t smoke cigarettes they either said nothing or joined in. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who was next.

As pipe smokers we are lucky that the Cigar Lobby is big enough to stand up to the FDA, at least for now. We are benefiting from that for sure and are grateful. But if Congress were to propose a Bill that protects Premium Cigars but tosses pipe tobacco over the side, the Cigar Lobby wold go for it in a heart beat. The “we got what we wanted” mentality would be front and center. Left on our own we have no chance against the FDA.

Why Is The FDA Even Involved?

In 2009 the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) was established. It was created by the United States Food and Drug Administration as a result of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by President Obama in June 2009. The FDA is responsible for the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention Act.

The Act establishes Regulatory controls by:

  • Setting performance standards for tobacco products
  • Reviewing pre-market applications for new and modified risk tobacco products
  • Enforcing advertising and promotion restrictions for tobacco products
  • Establishing requirements of warning labels for tobacco products

The U.S. mandated legislation assists the Federal agency regulatory efforts and initiatives to curb the suspected health hazards for tobacco products on an annual basis.

All this comes under Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco control and Federal Retirement Reform. Public Law 111-31 June 22, 2009 [ https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-111publ31/pdf/PLAW-111publ31.pdf ]

Of course, like anything with the government, they join the bill with something completely different. In this case with Retirement Reform. So if you are a reasonable Representative and think this possibly goes too far, you will be accused of wanting Senior Citizens to starve to death if you vote no. It’s such a dishonest way of doing business, but that’s the way it is.

Long Boring Legal Part

Quoting from the law is not something anyone is going to look forward to, believe me. Ive read the whole thing and feel a little sick from the ordeal. But it’s a service we provide to you so it was imperative that I take one for the team. Even so, there are a few sections that I feel should be pointed out. Also, I’m not a lawyer or pretend to offer any legal interpretation. Therefore it’s important to get the facts straight so you can read it for yourself.

Frist Highlight

Pipe Tobacco manufacturers and Cigar Manufacturers rely heavily on creating new products and blends that will interest the pipe or cigar smoker. If nothing ever changed, there is no doubt that sales would eventually level off and over time fall. Pipe tobacco is not a commodity like pork bellies or crude oil. Part of the fun of the hobby is trying new blends. This effectively puts a huge barrier between the development of any any new blend and the public. It is going to make the cost of creating such blends so high that the return on investment may not be worth it. Small tobacco manufacturers are being penalized unfairly since they may not have the resources to comply under these new rules. This of the small brick and mortar store that makes his own blends, or custom blends for good customers.

February 15th, 2007

That’s the date. If a blend you like was first produced in the last 12 years there’s a chance that its days are numbered. The date was chosen because they wanted to target Vaping products and they could care less if pipe tobacco and cigars got swept up in their legislative frenzy.

Here’s the applicable section.

‘‘SEC. 910. APPLICATION FOR REVIEW OF CERTAIN TOBACCO PRODUCTS.
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—
‘‘(1) NEW TOBACCO PRODUCT DEFINED.—For purposes of this
section the term ‘new tobacco product’ means—
‘‘(A) any tobacco product (including those products in
test markets) that was not commercially marketed in the
United States as of February 15, 2007; or
‘‘(B) any modification (including a change in design,
any component, any part, or any constituent, including
a smoke constituent, or in the content, delivery or form
of nicotine, or any other additive or ingredient) of a tobacco
product where the modified product was commercially marketed in the United States after February 15, 2007.

2nd Section – Don’t Let This Part Slip By

This section seems mundane but take a look at what they are doing, If you read the whole thing, the bar they are setting is almost unobtainable. Approval is going to be based on their whims. It is my opinion that they are laying the foundation to be able to deny anything and everything. The standard is “to the population as a whole”, they talk about “non-users” where the science is speculative at best. According to the American Lung Association 41,000 people a year die from “secondhand smoke”. A number that can’t possibly be proven, yet it’s taken as fact. Notice how this law is written to set up an almost open door for them to do whatever they want.

‘‘(3) DENIAL INFORMATION.—Any denial of an application
shall, insofar as the Secretary determines to be practicable,
be accompanied by a statement informing the applicant of
the measures required to remove such application from deniable
form (which measures may include further research by the
applicant in accordance with 1 or more protocols prescribed
by the Secretary).
‘‘(4) BASIS FOR FINDING.—For purposes of this section, the
finding as to whether the marketing of a tobacco product for
which an application has been submitted is appropriate for
the protection of the public health shall be determined with
respect to the risks and benefits to the population as a whole,
including users and nonusers of the tobacco product, and taking
into account—
‘‘(A) the increased or decreased likelihood that existing
users of tobacco products will stop using such products;
and
‘‘(B) the increased or decreased likelihood that those
who do not use tobacco products will start using such
products.
‘‘(5) BASIS FOR ACTION.—
‘‘(A) INVESTIGATIONS.—For purposes of paragraph
(2)(A), whether permitting a tobacco product to be marketed
would be appropriate for the protection of the public health
shall, when appropriate, be determined on the basis of
well-controlled investigations, which may include 1 or more
clinical investigations by experts qualified by training and
experience to evaluate the tobacco product.
‘‘(B) OTHER EVIDENCE.—If the Secretary determines
that there exists valid scientific evidence (other than evidence derived from investigations described in subparagraph (A)) which is sufficient to evaluate the tobacco
product, the Secretary may authorize that the determination for purposes of paragraph (2)(A) be made on the basis
of such evidence.

Almost Done – Last Part

Finally, how are small tobacco manufacturers effected? They might get a small break on the timeline, but in the end they will be expected to fall into line. All the while shelling out big money go meet regulatory compliance.

‘‘(c) AUTHORITY.—The Secretary shall have the authority under
this chapter to conduct or to require the testing, reporting, or
disclosure of tobacco product constituents, including smoke constituents.
‘‘(d) SMALL TOBACCO PRODUCT MANUFACTURERS.—
‘‘(1) FIRST COMPLIANCE DATE.—The initial regulations
promulgated under subsection (a) shall not impose requirements on small tobacco product manufacturers before the later
of—
‘‘(A) the end of the 2-year period following the final
promulgation of such regulations; and
‘‘(B) the initial date set by the Secretary for compliance
with such regulations by manufacturers that are not small
tobacco product manufacturers.
‘‘(2) TESTING AND REPORTING INITIAL COMPLIANCE PERIOD.—
‘‘(A) 4-YEAR PERIOD.—The initial regulations promulgated under subsection (a) shall give each small tobacco
product manufacturer a 4-year period over which to conduct
testing and reporting for all of its tobacco products. Subject
to paragraph (1), the end of the first year of such 4-
year period shall coincide with the initial date of compliance
under this section set by the Secretary with respect to
manufacturers that are not small tobacco product manufacturers or the end of the 2-year period following the final
promulgation of such regulations, as described in paragraph (1)(A). A small tobacco product manufacturer shall
be required—
‘‘(i) to conduct such testing and reporting for 25
percent of its tobacco products during each year of
such 4-year period; and
‘‘(ii) to conduct such testing and reporting for its
largest-selling tobacco products (as determined by the
Secretary) before its other tobacco products, or in such
other order of priority as determined by the Secretary.

That’s It For The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

I don’t know how you can’t feel bad for pipe tobacco manufacturers after that. They have such an uphill battle ahead of them it’s a wonder we have what we do. It will be a miracle if they can continue to make any profit in the future. The long term viability for tobacco manufacturers will depend on our continued support, not only in helping fight the crushing regulations, but in supporting their businesses.

The IPCPR is one way you can get involved on the legal side. They have tools and resources to contact your Representative to fight back.

By purchasing the blends you like gives the manufacturers the capital they need to comply with the regulations. If it isn’t going to be profitable for them to continue producing the blends, they won’t. It’s as simple as that.

Paying skyrocket prices for tobacco on auction sites is also not helpful, but if it’s the way you want to go, nobody is stopping you. It’s your money. If you have a budget for tobacco it might be much better spent buying directly from a retailer and focusing on what blends you know you love, and any blends that fall into the timeframe of 2007 or later.

The Case for Stocking Up

No matter how this pans out in the end, some things are most likely going to be going away. That’s the best case. The worst case is entire manufacturers will just decide to close up shop. We are not trying to scare you into buying massive amounts of tobacco, on the contrary, but giving yourself a buffer in this climate is not a bad idea.

Ask Yourself This

Has there ever been a time when government said “We are just getting too big, there’s no reason we should be telling people what to do. Let’s just let individuals decide for themselves”? You know the answer to that. It’s never going to happen, it will only get worse. You can take that to the bank.

I’ve heard it time and time again. The price of tobacco will never be as low as it is now. There is a lot of truth in that. So if you’re ever going to begin the process of stocking the shelves in your tobacco cellar, what better time than now?

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Chinese Proverb

Think of the wisdom in that. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t planned for what we now face.

Finally, as I stated earlier, it was not something people paid much attention to, or even thought of, but it’s what we have now. There may be nothing to worry about, but if in the end there is, wouldn’t you hate yourself for having seen the warning signs and done nothing?

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