Comments are in limbo temporarily

Aside

There’s a new comment system in place here that should greatly enhance the whole commenting experience thingy. If you can hear the buzzing, whirring, and clanking in the background, that’s the machine syncs the old comments from the old system with the new comment system.

You should see your old comments shortly and until then, you can still leave new comments. Please leave new comments! Comments are good!

Back to making pipe smoking videos

It has been a long time since I posted last. Sorry about the lack of content this year. My hiatus is over and there is fresh content and lots of news coming up.

Over the weekend I made two new YouTube videos – one about short term storage and the ugly things that happen when you don’t store pipe tobacco with proper care. The other covers steps you can take to make repairs if you let some pipe tobacco go dry.

Forum maintenance at Tamp and Puff

Just a quick note: I moved the forum from one server to another. The forum is currently operational but until the dust settles there are a few minor glitches here and there. Once the entire transition is complete you should see only improvements.

Epiphany by Cornell and Diehl Pipe Tobacco Review with Video

This review of Cornell and Diehl’s Epiphany is long overdue. As much as I smoke of this stuff I can’t figure out why it took so long to get around to posting the review.

Tin Description
We have a delightful new light English blend called Epiphany. Epiphany is reminiscent of the original Revelation blend that was said to be the favorite of a certain reknowned thinker named Einstein. Epiphany is another classic Tarler/Runowski blend of Va, Burleys, Latakia and Perique in perfect balance and harmony.

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SPT Logo on Ebay Auction Items – Not Mine

Ebay Auction with Smoking Pipe Tobacco logo

Ebay auction with SPT logo

Thanks to a reader I just learned that a seller on Ebay is using the SPT logo on products he or she is selling on Ebay.

I want to make it clear these are not mine, I have sold nothing on Ebay in a long time, and I do not endorse the products. (He’s selling someone else’s tobacco, using my logo on the tin, and says in his auction the value is in the tin.) I certainly do endorse Hearth and Home tobaccos from pipesandcigars.com, but buy it from pipesandcigars.com.

I do all my own graphics design. This site is kind of “my baby.”

Hopefully this is all a misunderstanding of some sort and this seller just doesn’t understand copyright and the ethics of using, editing, and selling someone else’s creative work.

I contacted the seller asking him to cease using it immediately. For now, just wanted to let you all know that I’m not the one selling tobacco tins on Ebay.

Also – I want to thank the reader who alerted me to this. I appreciate it.

Update:

The logo was removed and the remaining auctions were reported to eBay. After communication with someone from pipesandcigars.com I feel it safe to say they do not endorse this practice of selling their bulk blends repackaged in homemade tins on online auction sites.

I’m pretty certain eBay does not approve either based on their rules surrounding counterfeits, bootlegs, not to mention tobacco sales.

Again, I want to thank David for reporting this to me and all the support I’ve received here, at tampandpuff.com, and by email.

Shops Renaming Bulk Tobaccos

This is something that has bothered me as long as I’ve been aware of it. The light came on at my own local shop when the guy called one of the jarred bulks “their blend” and I noticed there was no back room where they might have a blending table. Then there were the telltale five pound foil bags I noticed they’d refill the jars from.

What I’m talking about:

bulk pipe tobacco in jars

The practice of renaming bulk tobacco blends does not pass the sniff test

The business practice I will be discussing to and so many shops employ is purchasing bulk tobaccos from a manufacturer, pouring it from the five-pound foil bag into a jar, creating their own name for it, and calling it a house blend.

This is pretty much an industry standard. Many pipe smokers I’ve discussed this with say “that’s just the way it is – its how its always been done.” That’s factual information but not meaningful. I contend this business practice creates problems for pipe smokers. This is why I address it.

Before the internet when everyone was limited to purchasing pipe tobacco from the nearest brick and mortar retail store these renamed bulks weren’t such a problem. “Sassafras Sunset” may have been Lane’s 1Q at Ernie’s Pipe and Cigar shop, but most of Ernie’s customers who loved Sassafras Sunset never knew they were smoking 1Q, rarely if ever went elsewhere to buy their tobacco, so they had no need to question the name.  Under the shallow illusion Ernie’s was the only place on Earth to find Sassafras Sunset so they never looked for it anywhere else anyway.

The landscape has changed. Pipe smokers are far more informed. Blogs, pipe tobacco review sites, and online discussion forums allow pipe smokers worldwide to compare notes and research blends. Better yet there is variety like never before. The business of selling pipes and tobacco has been taken online to provide us with better choices and prices that wouldn’t be imaginable before the early 90’s. We aren’t limited to single sources for our tobacco today.

Renaming these industrial bulk tobaccos does nothing to benefit the consumer and only creates problems. The thing that prompted this post is yet another instance of someone asking me “I used to smoke XYZ House Blend from PDQ Brick and Mortar – do you know where I can get more of a blend like that?” To which I obviously have to reply “No bleepin’ clue because I have no idea what PDQ B&M named their so-called XYZ house blend.”

There are other reasons. Following are among the most obvious ones to me.

It is dishonest and doesn’t respect intellectual property of the blender

The only victims of this “crime” are we the consumers. If the creators of a blend don’t mind giving away their copyright that’s there business. That doesn’t detract from the element of dishonesty. Taking credit for making something you didn’t make is sleazy. When a tobacconist calls one of the Altadis, McClelland’s, or Lane bulks his “house blend” he’s essentially calling it his and taking credit for it. How is that not dishonest? Don’t call it a house blend if you didn’t blend it in your house from component tobaccos.

Prevents purchasing power and limits competition

A prime reason for all these shenanigans on the neighborhood merchant’s part is keeping the customers coming back. Creating that illusion of being the only source of a particular blend ensures return customers. No doubt the fear is that telling you “Sassafras Sunset” is really Lane’s 1Q will tempt you to stop paying your tobacconist $60 a pound and start buying it online for half that.

This is how the practice of renaming these bulk blends removes competition. So long as you think there’s only one place to buy a blend you won’t shop elsewhere.

Our international community of pipe smokers can’t compare notes

One of the best things about being a pipe smoker in the 21st Century is being able to communicate with other pipe smokers the world over.  More often than not I try a new blend based on someone else’s recommendation on a blog, review site, or forum post. When bulk tobacco is renamed at the shop it eliminates this benefit. Hopefully you’ll be able to bump into another customer who likes it because no one on the forums knows what Sassafras Sunset is.

Here the practice works against the shop owner. Were I to read a post or review of an Altadis blend that piqued my interest I wouldn’t see it at my local shop even if the blend is carried because it has been renamed. Were it accurately labeled I’d buy a couple ounces to try on my next visit.

Won’t be able to find the blend if your source goes out of business

Another intense disadvantage for us occurs if the shop either goes out of business or cuts a blend from their inventory. You can’t get it there any more and you have no idea what it actually is so you are out of luck. This has happened to a number of my readers.

What you can do

Like all consumers we have options. If the practice bothers you like it does me there are some things you can do. Here are some suggestions:

Insist on transparency

Ask your tobacconist what the actual brand name and blend is as he purchased it. You have the right to know what you are buying. If you are told it is a secret or a “house blend” ask if your shop obtains the ingredients and blends them to create the recipe or if the blend was created elsewhere.  You may rub the shopkeeper the wrong way, encounter a deer in the headlights look from a salesperson who actually doesn’t know, or they’ll treat you like an adult and valued customer by providing the information.

Research on the internet and ask for blends by name – this is probably more reliable than the sniff test

If there is a bulk you want to try ask for it at your B&M. While they may not want to tell you that your beloved Sassafras Sunset is really 1Q, when you inform them you want to buy 1Q they’ll likely be happy to tell you they have it on hand and dip into the jar of Sassafras Sunset.

Take your business to a retailer who is up front about what they sell

This is what I do. It has been a very long time since I bought bulk tobacco in person. I order online. Some will say that it is important to keep the B&M shops in business by dealing with them whenever possible. I say that online retailers need my support too and earn it by offering the best prices, variety, and transparency in naming their blends. These are real people with families to support too who likely know as much or more about pipes and tobacco than the local cigar merchant. They won the competition for my business long ago.

Free trade for the consumer too

I am all for free market capitalism. People should be able to do business however they like and I am certainly not calling on the state to intervene and shut down this practice. (Not that they would, they’re too busy taxing the hell out of it and looking for other ways to make life difficult for pipe smokers.) I could never advocate a law that forces shop owners to label a blend with the actual manufacturers name. That arrangement should be left between the company making the tobacco and their customer.

Another major part of competition and the free market is an informed consumer. Make your own decisions. Personally I vote with my wallet against the practice by refusing to buy any tobacco that has been renamed.

I am open to other opinions about this. I’d like to hear from all sides of this issue, especially from retailers who still do this. Please do leave a comment. How does this practice help your customers? (We know how it benefits you.) That’s probably the most important question I have for anyone who disagrees with my position on this. If you’d like to answer any of my other points such as the honesty issue that would be great too.

The Doctor is not in


Folks, I do not give medical advice. I do not speculate (for others) the amount of risk associated with pipe smoking.

I keep getting questions from people wondering whether they should smoke. The answer is no – don’t do it. If you are worried that much about it don’t do it.

I have looked at what data I can find, acknowledged that the hobby is not entirely risk free (what on earth is?) and then I weighed the advantages of enhancing my life with pipe tobacco and saw where the scales fell.

The health thing is someone each person has to decide for themselves. The last thing I ever want to see is a letter saying “you encouraged me to smoke after I asked if it was safe and now my larynx just fell out.” I don’t want a letter from that person’s lawyer either.

Until you either believe it is safe enough, or you believe the risk is worth it, don’t smoke.

I am not trying to be a jerk – just shucking responsibility. If my larynx falls out because of pipe smoking (and someone can prove the pipe smoking is responsible) I am ready to buy the bag. I decided to smoke all by myself. I’ll own any consequences, good or bad, all by myself.

For the comments: Am I chicken? Should I tell people to throw caution to the wind and light up?


An obituary for a Brother of the Briar

I enjoy stories about pipe smokers. They are usually rich and make for an interesting read or listen. Linked below is the story of Herman Goldner, a four term mayor of Tampa Bay. He was mayor back when you could smoke anywhere – even in government office buildings – even in the mayor’s office.

Some quotes from the article:

Herman Goldner had a habit of smoking a pipe as he talked, allowing tendrils of blue smoke to drift from his mayoral office into the hall. It gave his hands something to do as his mind raced.


When the board asked just how he would propose evacuating troops from Vietnam, he took a studious puff of his pipe.

“Well, let’s see,” Mr. Goldner replied. “We could get out by air. We could get out by boat. And I think we could get out by land.”


He could not part with his pipe. When a doctor told him about the precancerous lesions in his mouth, Mr. Goldner left the pipe in his mouth; he just didn’t light it.

Do read the article. Great story about an interesting man and career.

link: Mayor packed ideas, pipe tobacco in rich public life – St. Petersburg Times


Survey Results

Thanks everyone who participated in Smoking Pipe Tobacco’s first-ever survey! I went thru each and every one. A number of you took considerable time out of your day to write out extensive comments and I assure you I paid attention and will take steps to implement suggestions.

The answers to the questions were virtually unanimous. Basically everyone thought the site needed at least a little bit of an overhaul so I am testing out the new design. You all want posts more often, more how-to articles, more reviews, articles about and interviews with people in the industry.

Just about everyone checked the box for “more general discussion about pipe smoking.” I wonder if that could be interpreted “more frequent posts that are less formal?” That’s what I meant by the question. Or maybe just more posts being this is already about pipe smoking?

One of the big surprises was that many of you want to hear more about lil’ ol’ me. Let me assure you there are much more interesting things to talk about but I’ll see what I can do. If I’m going to show you my pipe collection I better polish it up.

A number of you asked for more about pipes. I hear you. My vision for Smoking Pipe Tobacco has always been to make it about the tobacco, not so much the pipes, but my vision is also to serve you guys. Again, I’ll do the best I can.

Some of you even asked me to talk more about politics. A couple things on this: First off, in my personal everyday life I made the decision about half a year ago or more to become selectively ignorant. I no longer watch the news, I watch minutes (not hours) of TV a day if any, and I stay as far away from arguing about politics as I can. This is a big change for me because that used to be a major pastime for me.

Secondly, pipe smokers are a diverse bunch. Among us are those from every end of the political spectrum – conservatives of every stripe, liberals of all kinds, libertarians, environmentalists, atheists, clergy, the list goes on. All of you are my fellow pipe smokers. I don’t pretend to be able to make everyone happy but I can try not to alienate anyone. Don’t be surprised if I play what few political cards I have left close to my chest. News about tobacco legislation is always pertinent and I’ll pass that along as I become aware of it. Bottom line on politics in general: There’s already other blogs and web sites for that.

On the other hand, I do not prohibit polite and respectful exchange of political views over on the forums.

To summarize I’ll just say thanks once more for everyone who helped by taking the survey – there were about a hundred of you that responded in less than 24 hours it was up. Look for some changes and as always, drop me a line anytime to let me know what’s on your mind. No need to wait for another survey.


Breathing new life into SPT

Update October 1

Great response to the survey! Based on the results so far I am determined to go ahead and redesign the site redesigned the site. More on this later. I’ve also heard the feedback about keeping the content fresh and the ideas for content in the future. This feedback is greatly appreciated.

—–
Now that I have some breathing room in my life again I intend to use some of that room to breath some new life into the site. There will either be more of the same, some new directions, or all of the above. Stay tuned.

Also: I happened to take a look at the site the other day from a web browser with a fairly common type of plugin and noticed that breaks the layout of the site.

Who knows what else is going haywire that I don’t know about. This has led me to think about redesigning the site as part of my effort to breath some new life into Smoking Pipe Tobacco. I have began working on a possible redesign that would look something like this – much simpler, much less cluttered, hopefully easier to navigate.

SPT maybe getting a new look

SPT maybe getting a new look

Please take the survey and let me know if there is anything else you think I should consider in my ongoing effort to improve the site. I am closing the survey. Use the regular contact form to report any problems you find.

I sent the following to SPT subscribers:

Greetings everyone and I hope you are having a pleasant week. I have a few things to report about SmokingPipeTobacco.com.

First I want to apologize to the Daily subscribers to this email update who received at least three emails yesterday from me at about the same time. All but one of them were old. They had been jammed up in the works somehow and when I noticed another problem and fixed it that cut those old emails loose and they ended up in your inbox.

It is not my intention to clutter anyone’s email inbox. Junk mail is something I despise and would not inflict it on anyone.

That said I also have apologies to make on the other side of the spectrum. For almost the last year fresh content has been rather dry. My videos, the Tamp and Puff Forums, and SmokingPipeTobacco.com are large endeavors. About a year ago I took a rather intensive but thankfully temporary management job. The job was a blast, I loved it, but it took away from this. For the lack of new content at SPT I apologize.

Many of you have signed up since then and wondered why you never get anything. Others are receiving this note and don’t remember signing up in the first place.

My plan is to get things moving along regularly and with some improvements as well.

That brings me to another topic. I have created a survey. Please take a few minutes to complete it. There are only a few easy questions. I feel it is time to make some design improvements (and possibly repairs?) to SPT and want to ensure that my readers agree with me and more importantly find out what I can do to make SPT better for you.

You will find the survey at:
http://smokingpipetobacco.com/take-the-survey/

As always, this email update I send out is a two way street. I use my real email address not a “no-reply” system. You can simply reply to this email and tell me what is on your mind if you don’t want to fill out the survey.

I want to thank you again for subscribing and helping out make SPT better. Looking forward to hearing from you.