LETS THINK!!!.. ABOUT THIS FDA THING FOR A SECOND
Big Tobacco is going after the big money. Naturally, this places the huge pipe smoking industry squarely in its sights. Yes, the Pipe Smoking Industry is one of the Most Important groups both from a financial perspective and just a general ‘Very Important Group’ out of all the tobacco categories out there. We are amazing. We all drive Lamborghinis. We all live in Malibu. The Pipe Smoking Industry is filled with rich fat cats & this is the main reason why the FDA has enacted this legislation!
Did that sound serious? It was not meant to be.
We are not that important guys. Sorry. Its nice to think that we are but the FDA is focusing on much bigger fish as they make these new laws.
Do you guys even know where we fall in the Yearly $ Sales scheme of things?
*In 2014, US convenience store sales of tobacco products broke down like this…
Roll your own tobacco – $0.06
Pipe Tobacco – $0.07
Smoking Accessories – $0.25
Lighters – $0.56
E-Cigarettes – $0.66
Cigars – $2.44
Smokeless Tobacco – $5.52
Cigarettes – $52.53
Thats sales in Billions.
This does not include online and other sales outlets but you should still get the picture with regards to pipes & pipe tobacco.
We are the lowest man on the totem pole. Big tobacco is going after Smokeless Tobacco, E-Cigarettes & Cigars.
There is no board meeting at Phillip Morris taking place where someone is outlining the immense financial benefits of owning pipe brand X.
The board members of the e-cigarette companies, they are the ones who have the right to be very concerned & they are running around and getting ready to put up a big fight. For those e-cig guys to start getting very worried, this makes sense.
The pipe world is a little bit different.
We in pipes have small business people in our community literally closing up shop today because they believe the FDA is about to shut down their business. It’s just not a likely soon to be occurring scenario. It does not make sense to jump to this big conclusion. Most of those guys closing shop today are either poorly informed or they just want to use this issue as an excuse to shutter their business venture.
Out of all the smaller retailers I have spoken to, few are making any significant plans because of the new law. Even some of the larger retailers aren’t doing anything different.
Have you heard or seen anybody telling you to get ready for some big changes in pipes in a few weeks? No. There is a reason for that. They too don’t know the exact details of what is coming down on us exactly. Naturally, without concrete information, they are not making any drastic business changes.
Let’s look at some other basic facts, more from the individual artisan pipe maker perspective.
In 2009 the FDA said that all food & beverage containers made in the US are now under their regulation. Any product that comes in contact with food now has to follow the 2009 Food Code law. That food code act has same general stuff as this current tobacco legislation has. For the past 7 years, if you wanted to make a Coffee Mug or turn a Wooden Salad Bowl on your lathe, you had to register, pay fees, apply, confirm, stamp, send in applications, send in your salad bowls & pay for approval and yada yada yada.
Go scoot over to Instagram and search the hashtag #woodturnedbowl or Search on google for the same. What you will find is many many, oh so many thousands of artisans making & selling, on a daily & constant basis, wood bowls, mugs & any and all types of containers meant for food storage that is under the FDA’s jurisdiction.
Are all these artisans in ‘technical violation’ of the 2009 FDA Food Code Act? Yes they are.
Is the FDA spending any time & money going after these people? No they are not.
Why? It doesn’t make financial sense for the FDA to spend money, time and effort on such an insignificant area.
Have you seen an artisan making salad bowls complaining about the FDA forcing them to shut down their business?
The point guys is that the FDA is after the big fish.
We in pipes are very little fish. Tiny fish. Insignificant tadpoles.
Yes, there are a few entities in our industry that should actually be concerned, worried & curious about what it is to come. Those guys are the factory pipe makers, both domestic & overseas and also the large pipe tobacco manufacturers. Those ‘large’ companies, with a bigger footprint so to speak, they are thinking about this legislation. Why? Because they are the ones who are the most likely segment of our industry to get a letter from the FDA. I spoke to one of the largest pipe manufacturers in the world & while they are concerned, they honestly do not know how this legislation will actually impact them. There are way too many unknowns still. Not enough clear answers. They are doing a ‘wait & see’ approach. Main point though, if we hear any news on this issue it will come from one of those companies.
Back to our amazing pipe artisans. It would be nice to think that we are so important in the FDA’s eyes that we need to make immediate adjustments to our life & business plans. Unfortunately, anybody doing so is completely jumping the gun. These people assume they have clear answers today in order to make that decision. This is simply not correct. We don’t have the answers yet.
Nobody has been going after all the wood sculptors making & marketing ‘illegal’ food bowls every single day the past 7 years. It is a pretty safe bet to think that artisan hand crafted smoking pipes will have the same level of freedom.
Plus, do you know how easy it would be to make a pipe & classify it as an ‘Artistic Wood Sculpture’? Or how easy it would be to modify the pipe to make it not smokeable during the marketing & sales periods? There are many ways around many of these issues.
All you wonderful artisan craftsman making pipes.
All of us wonderful pipe smokers collecting pipes.
We do not have enough concrete information today to assume and envision a clear future. Anybody telling you otherwise is overreacting. I bet you $100 you will be able to buy a US made pipe on August 9th and you will not get a letter from the law saying you have bought an illegal, un-registered, un-approved by the FDA item.
It should take years just for the FDA to figure out how they will even enforce these issues. All you pipe artisans are likely very safe.
We have to wait until some legal action is taken against somebody in our industry and they post the letter the FDA sent them for all of us to see. Then, at that time, we will slowly get to understand what really happens next with the pipe smoking industry & how deep the changes will be. Will that happen on August 9th, 2016? Day 1 of the new law? Lets wait & see but I do not think so.
History tells us to relax, slow down, continue on as usual & don’t waste your time thinking about some doomsday scenario that may never actually materialize. Most especially if you are an artisan pipe maker making ‘wood sculptures’.
Carry On and wait till we have something more concrete to talk about for the pipe smoking industry.
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