Archive for March 2010

Sakuracon and a trio of “easy-on-the-eyes” pipe smokers

I know. You missed me, didn’t you? Liar. Been tied up hoarding artwork from the Comic Art Community, and gearing up for Sakuracon. I bet you’re thinking “What a geek.” Well, let me share with you the following:

cosplay-cuties-841 cosplay-cuties-821 cosplay-cuties-111

Yeah, I thought so. Thank god my wife has given me up as hopeless.

In the meantime, it’s important to remember that I blog about serious pipe smoking issues.


Remember. Protect pipe smokers rights to, um…yeah. Right. Whatever. What were we talking about?

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Pipe snob

Tobacco tax aims to reduce smokers

In case you think just American and UK pipe smokers are getting screwed…

Viet Nam News

Updated March, 11 2010 10:14:38

HA NOI — An increase in the tobacco tax will help reduce the number of smokers in Viet Nam, according to an overview survey on tobacco tax in Viet Nam conducted by the Public Health University on Tuesday in Ha Noi.

“The low price of tobacco is one of the reasons for the increasing number of smokers in Viet Nam,” said a member of the survey group, Nguyen Tuan Lam.

“The tax on tobacco was set at 45 per cent of the retail price, lower than the 65-80 per cent recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Lam said.

According to statistics from the National Tobacco Prevention Programme, Viet Nam is burdened with uncontaminated diseases, including those relating to tobacco. Health authorities estimate that there were about 40,000 smoking fatalities in 2008, and the number would increase to 50,000 per year by 2023.

“In Viet Nam, a 10 cent increase in the tobacco tax would reduce consumption by at least 5 per cent, stop 300,000 smokers, save 100,000 from dying and make nearly VND1.9 trillion (US$100 million) in taxes to the Government budget,” said Lam.

In Viet Nam, nearly 50 per cent of men smoke, 65 per cent of them aged 25-45. Medical spending relating to cancer and heart and lung diseases reached over $75 million in 2005.

“Tobacco prevention measures have been applied in Viet Nam before. However, they’ve mostly been ineffective,” said the rector of the Public Health University, Le Vu Anh.

Researchers said that money spent on food instead of tobacco could help 11.2 per cent of poor families move above the poverty line. A reduction in tobacco consumption would also help improve health conditions, which in turn would help reduce tobacco- and smoking-related diseases.

The survey also recommended raising the tax on thuoc lao (a kind of Vietnamese tobacco smoked via a bamboo pipe) to VND1,000 /100 gram. The item is currently tax-free.

Research from the World Bank said that a 10 per cent increase in the tobacco tax would reduce 4 per cent of the demand in high-income countries and 8 per cent in medium- and low-income countries, though sales would still increase about 7 per cent. Money saved by people giving up cigarettes would be spent on other goods and help create jobs and increase taxes for governments. — VNS

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The view from this side: Pipe times

Wicked Local Hanover

By Bob Keys
Posted Mar 10, 2010 @ 01:58 PM

Hanover — As I was growing up all grown-up guys smoked cigarettes.

My father smoked, my five uncles smoked, my neighborhood pals had fathers who smoked.

They all smoked cigarettes.

Some women smoked cigarettes but not many.

If they did smoke cigarettes you knew that they began smoking during the mid-1920s and that they were “Flappers.”

Flappers smoked, wore short dresses and danced the Charleston.

Cigarettes became popular during World War I as cigarette companies in a spate of ill-conceived patriotism sent millions of free cigarettes “over there” to the American doughboys.

Maybe they did know what they were doing.

Anyhow, if you were a guy and were born around the turn of the century (1900) you smoked cigarettes.

Born prior to 1900, say, 1880 or earlier, you started smoking at age 15. A young man could choose cigars or a pipe as a symbol of maturity.

In my young years then, if the guy was elderly he smoked a cigar or a pipe.

My maternal grandfather smoked a cigar.

My paternal grandfather smoked a pipe.

Like my maternal granddad, cigar smokers didn’t always smoke them all the way down.

If the cigar went out they just kept the cold, stinking stub in their mouths.

“Stinking” was how I thought of the smell when I had to get into my grandfather’s brown Dodge sedan after he had smoked his Stogie down to a stub.

He was a wonderful grandfather but I’ve had an aversion to brown Dodge cars and cigars ever since.

Grandpa Keys always had a corn-cob pipe in his mouth.

I don’t remember him actually puffing on it but it did have its own smell; not pretty but certainly better than Grandpa Davies’ scent.

Grandpa Keys packed his corn cob pipe from a large, blue can of Granger pipe tobacco.

During this period every Hollywood actor and actress smoked cigarettes.

Bette Davis used hers as a baton between her two fingers in order to direct what everyone else in the room should be doing. But really suave actors like James Mason and Charles Boyer smoked pipes: not corn cobs.

Basil Rathbone played Sherlock Homes and always smoked a pipe with a curved stem. This was called a calabash.

He would take it out of his mouth to use it as a pointer. Movies with college-campus themes showed college guys all smoking pipes.

Having watched many movies before I went to college, one of the first things I bought was a pipe.

It had a light brown bowl and a shiny yellow stem.

It was beautiful.

I bought “Rum and Maple” pipe tobacco because while it glowed it had a deliciously sweet smell.

You had to “break-a-pipe-in” before you became a serious pipe smoker.

The first lighting was done with just a pinch of tobacco.

Adding additional pinches of tobacco in the next three or four light-ups was how pipes were broken in.

Once the pipe was broken in the smoker would take the tobacco pouch out of his tweed jacket, fill the bowl, tamp the tobacco in, light a match, touch the lit match to the tobacco in the bowl and begin sucking air into the glowing tobacco, down the stem and into his mouth.

Pipes could be smoked without inhaling.

The movie picture of Charles Boyer or of the college pipe smoker was one of assurance, health, a chiseled chin with the pipe pointed straight ahead (a metaphor for the young man’s future) with a ribbon of sweet-smelling smoke trailing behind his brisk stride while beautiful sweatered, plaid-skirted, saddle-shoed co-eds turned their heads at his passing with a sigh of adoration.

Not quite.

At least not for me.

First, although the tobacco did have a marvelous odor from the bowl, it burned my tongue something awful.

Second, in order to keep the fire glowing, the smoker has to continuously suck in the hot, tongue-burning smoke or the tobacco will go out.

Third, a straight, stemmed 4-inch pipe, its bowl filled to the brim, is somewhat heavy. The part of the stem which is held in the mouth is small and must be clenched tightly by the teeth making conversation impossible.

Even smiling is impossible.

There were two options, neither one palatable.

I tried pushing the pipe-stem back into my mouth to reduce the leverage only to discover that this clever device caused me to gag.

Else, I had to continuously hold the bowl with my right hand, which caused me to lose whatever suavity I thought I had. And besides, the tobacco, when lit caused the pipe bowl to get very hot.

It’s good to see that, for the most part, Hollywood’s good-guy image today is that of a pipe-less, cigar-less, cigarette-less idol. How often reality destroys the dream.

Pipe dreams.

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Brian Monteith: You can stick that in your pipe and smoke it

Published Date: 11 March 2010
By Brian Monteith

IT WAS all going to be so beautiful in Holyrood’s Walt Disney world where politicians know best, tell us what is and isn’t good for us – and when we fail to listen, bully us into submission.

Yesterday was No Smoking Day, so I lit up my pipe in protest.

I remember when First Minister Jack McConnell, cheered on enthusiastically by Nicola Sturgeon, told us how our brave new world, this modern Scotland, would ban smoking in enclosed public spaces, de-normalising smoking so that fewer people would inhale tobacco.

I myself had no problem with extending smoking bans in enclosed public places, except that I objected to the tone of the approach – the abuse of smokers by making them pariahs would not have been allowed if they were another minority such as homosexuals, Jews or Pakistanis – and nor did I agree that private businesses such as pubs, restaurants and especially clubs were public places. They were private domains where the licensee had the authority to refuse entry.

The defenders of lifestyle management and social engineering – the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Scottish Nationalists – told us to ignore the economic threats that the hospitality trade feared would engulf them. The fall in smoking and an improvement in the nation’s health would be worth it.

Before the ban was debated, I attended a one-day seminar at a hotel right next door to the Holyrood parliament hosted by the Scottish licensed trade. All 129 MSPs were invited to come and meet publicans and hoteliers from their constituencies. I was the only MSP to turn up.

The Health Bill was passed with great celebration by the bullies and their hangers on. After a year from the introduction of the ban in March 2006, a seminar was organised in Edinburgh to tell the world how Scotland was leading the way in tobacco control – more trumpets blared when an unbelievable drop in heart attacks by 17 per cent was proclaimed.

It was unbelievable because it was a lie, and it wasn’t the first to be told.

In fact, the truth can be found on Chris Snowdon’s website velvetgloveiron, but it’s rather long and complex so, to put it simply, the health statistics were distorted and did not compare lemons in 2006 with lemons in 2007 – they compared lemons in 2006 with cucumbers in 2007.

Similar claims about a fall in smoking rates were exposed last month. Rather than the big fall that was claimed, the Office of National Statistics has revealed the number of smokers in Scotland fell from 25 per cent before the ban to 24 per cent after it. As smoking has been falling for the last 20 years, this change is of no statistical significance and cannot be attributed to the ban.

Now the truth about the effect on our licensed trade is out in the open, too – on Monday, we were told that three Scottish pubs are closing every week and it is the community-based pubs that are closing the most.

I’m not going to try and claim that all of the problems that our pubs face are due to the smoking ban. They face new and complex legislation that was meant to make licensing simple but it has ended up more complicated and more costly.

They have been banned from having any drinks promotions such as happy hours or a half and a nip for pensioners on quiet afternoons, and let’s not forget people have less in their pockets to spend. Any one of these would be a burden, but all three and the smoking ban? It’s just too much for some and they are closing.

The reason is simple – booze in supermarkets is cheap, can be promoted legally with discounts and people can still smoke and drink at home. I remember warning this would cause far more fires at home – scaremongering I was accused of – but the sad fact is that deaths from fires caused at home by cigarettes have doubled.

Politicians remain in denial, they will not accept the smoking ban as a contributory factor to pub closures, nor do they admit that the health gains have been exaggerated and they go all quiet when you mention that the number of smokers refuses to fall or the deaths from fires.

Instead, they become more extreme in their reactions – banning cigarettes out of sight in newsagents, urging more tax hikes and thinking of how to ban it in cars and at home, using the presence of children as the excuse.

Not content with demonising smoking tobacco, they now demonise drinking alcohol, consuming fatty foods and other behaviours they think they know better about. Without a doubt, we will end up with more alcoholics and more fatties as every descent into prohibition has shown.

The smoking ban has given us some nicer pubs with clean air by pushing smokers out into the streets. It could have been achieved without a ban by asking pubs to meet clean air standards.

We would then have fewer pubs closing, fewer deaths from home fires and still have achieved a slow but falling rate of smokers. I’m away to enjoy my pipe.

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