Thursday, March 5, 2015
******IMPORTANT ILLINOIS RESIDENTS AND VISITORS********
OPPOSE HB2404 – MAKE 6 CALLS TODAY!! Wednesday March 4th
HB2404 will add vapor products to the Smoke Free Illinois Act
HB2404 restricts vaping like smoking cigarettes ONLY because the vapor looks like smoke
- Vapor is NOT smoke
- Vapor is not harmful like smoke
- Adding Vaping to this Act and inferring that the vapor is harmful IS Misleading Consumers about the relative harms
- Adding Vaping to this Act and inferring that the vapor is harmful WILL deter people from trying this less harmful alternative
Call members of the Consumer Protection Committee
Representative Thomas Bennett (R) 106th District (815) 432-0106
Representative Avery Bourne (R) 95th District (217) 324-5200
Representative Peter Breen (R) 48th District (630) 403-8135
Representative Jerry F. Costello, II (D) 116th District (618) 282-7284 firstname.lastname@example.org
and continue to call the following 2
Chairperson of the Committee Representative Elizabeth Hernandez (D) 24th District (708) 222-5240 (217) 782-8173 email@example.com
Chairperson of the Committee Representative Eddie Lee Jackson, Sr. (D) 114th District (618) 875-9950 (217) 782-5951
Tell Your Story!
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Please help if you can..and don't forget to share. Thanks in advance!
Click here to support Lawsuit Against Govt Overreach by Audrey Silk
This might sound like it's about smoking but it's much more than that. It's about protecting everyone's interests against government encroachment where, by law, it ought not be.
When government bureaucracies are allowed to get away with breaking the law, it's the law itself that suffers and, next thing you know, it will 'only' be about some activity you enjoy or some group you belong to."
In May 2012 the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation announced it had taken unilateral action to ban smoking in state parks and beaches without benefit of legislation.
The problem with that was not that a smoking ban in state parks was illegal. Rather, it was that the Office of Parks had exceeded its authority -- that the ban was imposed by bureaucratic fiat, not legislated law, and on that basis alone, was unconstitutional.
In fact, the New York State legislature has repeatedly declined to pass this specific law for over a decade, as proposed by both houses. At least nineteen bills have been rejected. The Office of Parks, therefore, not only exceeded its administrative mission, not only assigned itself legislative powers, butin fact went against the legislature's will.
My organization, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H. ), sued on those grounds. We won .
They appealed. They won . Sigh.
C.L.A.S.H. is now in the process of filing the next appeal. But C.L.A.S.H. is cash poor. In fact, in the interest of total transparency, the last round was almost entirely paid for with the private money of its founder, moi,Audrey Silk. This shouldn't be when the benefit is the protection of all against the whims of unelected officials. No one's civil liberties are safe if this is allowed to go unchecked.
Worse yet are instances where government bullies you out of defending yourself when challenged by them simply because you can't afford legal representation. The government then has the nerve to describe it to the media as a "success of [our] lawsuit" as if the case was heard in court.
A favorable outcome reaches beyond the borders of New York state in that this will send a message to non-legislative bodies in jurisdictions across the country that might contemplate doing the same that they cannot violate the rule of law and to step back.
C.L.A.S.H.'s Attorney Brett Joshpe has said, "This is another example of government run amok in our society. Unelected officials simply cannot create substantive laws and restrict peoples' freedom without appropriate legislative authority. Democracy is as much about process as it is about results, and this is a flagrant abuse of process that we will not allowto go unchecked."
No matter what state you live in, no matter if you smoke or don't smoke, your donation to this legal fund is an investment in your own right to be free from lawless governance.
Monday, January 19, 2015
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.
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”.
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.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
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
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
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.......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.