Nic-Addicts (and reformed ones) Unite

In my effort to keep my quitting smoking saga updated, here’s the latest.   Still vaping and have my supplies nailed down, so no ‘real cigs desperation smoking’ while waiting for the postman to arrive.

Designed a business card with info, web addresses, etc., to hand out to folks when I’m out and about (got tired of writing it down for every “I want to quit smoking” person who asked).

Thanks to the wonderful community at e-cigarette-forum, today I read a study published in Journal of Public Health Policy, 2010.

The following quote appears near the end of page 12 and beginning of page 13:

(This quote, IMHO, says it all)

In light of this evidence, it is unfortunate that in the United States, the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Action on Smoking and Health, American Legacy Foundation, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence have all issued statements supporting FDA efforts to take them off the US market. In the United States, the courts will ultimately determine whether the FDA has the legal authority to do this, but we question the ethical and health policy merits of this approach.

If smoking, quitting smoking, public health or FDA power topics are on your list of “like to be in the know”, you will take time to read this report.

For me, it was a godsend- I started ‘vaping’ (using the electronic cigarette) in January of 2011.  I have steadily decreased my nicotine intake since, even though popular propaganda outlets have inspired those who do not know me (passer-bys) to inform me they are useless in quitting smoking – I beg to differ.  Last mix of e-juice got me down to 16mg of nicotine (from my starting level of 36) – not too shabby!  Not sure I’ll make the 12/31/2011 goal of being nicotine free, but okay with that.

During these 8 months, I’ve also been instrumental in converting 4 friends from cigs to the electronic version – all are happy with their results.   For the life of me, I had a hard time finding US based studies and reports – and really didn’t feel I needed them until about 3 months ago when, I swear, nearly everyone I knew started asking me if they were “safe”.

I can only surmise this questioning coincided with some media release by the FDA, touting their commitment to saving us from ourselves.

If you wonder about the safety, the use of and contents of the e-cig, I suggest you read this 16 page study.   Don’t faint – it’s a quick easy read and many tables showing the stats – if you think you’re in for a long, boring, dry read, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!

Sunny Side Up(date)

Ventured into the newsroom this morning.   Already in a ‘mood’ so what’s a little more irritation and angst?

Read the latest regarding food poisoning allegations and egg recalls.

Seems FDA Chief Margaret Hamburg needs more ‘power’ in order to do her job properly.   She’d also like to have greater authority over imported foods.

Funny, the tainted eggs came from farms in Iowa.  When did they become defined as foreign imports?

She is, however, taking the ‘egg problem’ very seriously.  Apparently laws that allow the shutdown of lemonade stands and small dairy farms (read here, and here, and oh, lookee, here’s another….) have failed miserably when it comes to keeping big corporations on the straight and narrow.  She simply must have more authority in her fight against evil egg producers.

She calls for more enforcement and preventative power.  Oh, and would you people please quit eating eggs sunny side up too?

(I can see aides and under-paid paralegals frantically adding that decree to some sub-section in the pending Modern Food Safety Act….)

Sheesh.   Have you no intelligence whatsoever?  Must we now legislate how your breakfast  be cooked, too?


What really caught my eye was the long list of previous violations by DeCoster companies (seems the two main farms in this tragedy are owned by or heavily linked to Wright County Egg and Quality Egg, both owned by Austin “Jack” DeCoster).

Between 1994 and 2010, seems DeCoster companies have run afoul of and had to pay large fines for multiple offenses regarding harm to the environment, employees and animals.

As my eyes re-read the timeline, I noticed heavy involvement by Labor Secretaries, EPA, Immigration authorities and animal welfare groups… the list was long and varied, but allusions to different agencies involved made my mind fill in, “OSHA”, “Fair Wage & Labor”, “State Environmental agencies”…

I didn’t see FDA or subtle reference to such at all in the long list.   Guess they were anxiously sitting in their offices, unable to join in the battle because they didn’t have proper authority and power….


Really, what kind of product did you expect from those who don’t care if hog waste runs off into local waterways, if  employees have safe and clean working conditions, who continually hire illegal immigrants willing to work for peanuts and suffer all kinds of indignities just to stay in the country and eat?  Apparently these folks also make the typical slave quarters of the pre-war south look like mansions when compared to the living conditions of their animals.

Rather than just blindly giving Ms. FDA some more power, me thinks perhaps a little more research is required.


Some preliminary digging into historic egg prices tells me savvy egg producers plan for space and animal workforce management to counteract the dips in productivity compliments of the molting process.

(Which in chicken speak means, renewal time.  “I’m taking time off from reproducing and growing me some new feathers to replace these old, shabby ones.”   Nature does have a cycle.   Which, historically, is rebelliously out of sync with consumer demands….)

According to one poultry specialist report attempting to educate in regards to Flock Management the average wholesale price per dozen of eggs from 1983 – 2002 was 52.3¢.

I figure this is probably a good number, since the report was ‘sponsored’ by the United Egg Producers.  They better know how much money they get per dozen, else their 10-year approach to flock management will be severely handicapped.

This author also contends that prices took a jump in 2003.  Up to an average of .58¢ per dozen.  One section puzzled me:

“Are we entering a period of time for significant changes in the prices we receive for our eggs?  If so, should we re-think our replacement policies? If prices justify the elimination of molting is the industry prepared to make a major investment in new rearing facilities?”

How are they ‘eliminating’ molting?   Have they found the secret to keeping chickens from dropping their feathers?  How do the birds feel about this?  Did Mother Nature get the memo?

Further reading indicates they eliminate molting by selling off the chickens.  And replacing them with new ones, ready to lay….

Sometimes my cynical heart leads me to jump to conclusions….


I also question the container in which these egg farmers are doing business.   A search to find who actually sets the wholesale price for eggs informs me it’s either complicated or on a need-to-know-basis, and I do not need to know.  (or perhaps I need to polish up my searching skills….it does happen….)

I did find this quote regarding poultry and egg prices from the USDA’s Economic Research website (tsk, tsk, last updated April, 2009):

“With almost 18 percent of total poultry production being exported, the U.S. poultry industry is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations, trade negotiations, and economic growth in its major importing markets.”

Okay, that’s interesting.   Has anyone heard the rumor a global economic crisis is going on?   Maybe egg prices were reduced in order to keep folks from starving due to poverty.   Lowered prices means egg producers need to get their profits from quantity, not quality….just a speculation…


My brain committee speaks up about a gal I worked with years ago.

I never saw this gal wear the same outfit twice during the six months I was a temp in her office.   During a visit to her home,  my hostess proudly showed me her master closet, and two other full-size closets packed from floor to rafter with clothes. They made the local Goodwill racks look sparse and neat.

She was appalled I paid an average of $8/gallon for raw milk from an organic farm. (translation: small flock, healthy animals, modest lifestyle owners who love God’s creatures, great and small.)

She routinely went clothes shopping in order to keep her wardrobe and fashion plate status renewed.   In her mind, organic dairy farmers were interfering with my right to dress well.

When a society encourages fashionable, extravagant wardrobes over basic nutrition, then we all have a problem.

(No, I don’t look in other people’s medicine cabinets…It’s just her bad luck to combine a tour of her wardrobe with criticisms of my food choices…and my ability to type…)


The buy-local-organic community cries “corporate farming” is the root of most of our evils.

I say corporate farming grew in the fertile ground prepared by a busy, complex society who values luxuries over necessities and demands ‘instant gratification’.

“I want an Egg McMuffin, My Way and I want it now!  Hurry up, I’m late for work.”


Philip Zimbardo defines Evil as

The Exercise of Power to Intentionally Harm, Hurt, Destroy or Commit Crimes against Humanity.

He also contends it’s not just bad apples who commit Evil.  Often, it’s good apples who have been placed in a poor situation and are required to operate under a problematic system.

The plot thickens….


The AP article listed over 3.5 million dollars paid by DeCoster Farms in fines and settlements since 1994, though I think they just highlighted the big ones.

Are the owner and his managers Evil people who must be stopped via a more powerful FDA?

Or are they business men trying to make a living in a system that demands short-cuts and piss-poor conditions just in order to make a living off a commodity they have no direct power in setting the price of other than through pricey lobbyists and campaign donations? (those two items do not come cheap…)

Have they grown so big and received so many tax breaks, they can survive even in the face of million dollar penalties, fines and settlements?

Did they grow to immense proportions through Taking Over the World Intent, or did they do their best to meet supplier demands in a price fixing system?

Did they discover they could not fulfill supply demands, profit requirements, regulatory fees, labor laws, environmental protection acts and good animal husbandry practices all at the same time?  Did they truly set out to destroy the average American or did they slide one slippery step at a time down a muddy slope built and maintained by our government and culture?


One last observation – It’s amazing to me how I don’t have to go any further than my Yahoo email “What’s New?” tab to connect with reports on the Salmonella outbreak that simply cries out for more FDA power and authority.

Mainstream media is just in time as Congress reconvenes on September 13th and Senate Bill S510 is on the agenda.

I have to scan Facebook, read emails from a friend and surf independent blogs or small locally owned media to find out how local, state and federal authorities are wreaking havoc in the lives of small dairy, poultry and meat operations.

Via charges of regulatory, permit and licensing violations.

Resulting in operation shut down, seizure and/or destruction of personal property and Cease and Desist orders, punishable by jail time if ignored. (Grazin’ Acres, Bechard Family Farms, Rawesome organic co-op, Palmer Family Farm, Brigitte Ruthman just to name a few…)

These small farms were targeted via sting operations or unannounced raids by local regulatory agencies.   No allegations of tainted food, food borne illness, environmental hazards, labor violations or cruelty to animals have been made by those leveling charges.

They face extinction because they dared to provide themselves, their neighbors and local community with healthy, nutritious food.

But you won’t hear about them through Yahoo News or the AP.

Cause if you did, you’d tell Ms. FDA and the authors of S510 they already have power aplenty and they’d better start focusing their enforcement efforts on the proper targets.

Tyranny grows to power in the field of Fear and Hysteria.

The birth of USDA and FDA

Hey!  Walked away from my computer to prepare supper.   Listening to Modern Marvels: The Butcher, while making bread and spaghetti sauce.  Learned something new.

But first I have to tell you the quotes that struck me as I’m listening to the history of the change from local butcher to packing plant factories….

Narrator: “The railways determined who would become America’s top butchering town.”

“By 1861, Chicago had miles of stockyards to house the cattle and hogs arriving every day on the trains.  Packing plants sprouted up almost over night.”

Historian: “If you were going to make money in the packing business, you had to be able to have a system that allowed you to pay unskilled worker’s .14 an hour and only .50 an hour to skilled workers.”

Previous employee of Armour Packing Plant: “10 – 12 hour days were the norm.   You had to stay focused on your cuts, otherwise you’d hold up the assembly line.  And there was hell to pay if you held up the assembly line.  The heat, the screaming animals, the smell…it was hard work.”

Narrator: “Upton Sinclair published his novel, “The Jungle” in 1906 to shed light and raise public awareness of the poor working conditions of employees in the packing industry. “

Historian: “The book actually had a very different response.  People focused on the 13 or 14 pages that talked about workers falling from exhaustion into vats of fat, the loss of fingers and other limbs from equipment.   People were outraged their food supply was contaminated.”

Narrator: “The USDA was created to inspect both animals and packing facilities.   The Pure Food and Drug Act (mother of the FDA agency) followed in reaction to this outcry.”


So what did I get out of this story?

Mr. Sinclair said, “Look!  Look at what  business owners are requiring of their workers and what they are paying them.   We need to change this.”

Majority of Public said, “How dare those peasants taint our food supply!  My well-fed tummy before the suffering of my fellow man.  Somebody better get in there and make sure they quit putting their severed limbs in our food.”


Well, gotta go and finish spaghetti sauce complete with sausage made from a pig that was raised in roomy, clean digs and who had to wait an extra week before going to the butcher.   Seems the locker plant I do business with only takes on so much work at once.   They like to do a good job on their cuts and let their workers have a weekend….  They risked losing business by telling me I’d have to wait for a week….

Good for them.

Durned if Ya Do…

Okay, I admit I don’t always purchase enough organic roll-your-own tobacco to satisfy my daily consumption rates for the month.

I have a choice – I can either go to the convenience store located 4 blocks from my home and contribute to the livelihood of my neighbors who are under-employed there, or I can burn an extra 2 gallons of fuel  to drive to the mom and pop store I support, every 4-6 weeks, 20 miles away (40+ miles, round-trip).

(trying to be a good citizen regarding fossil fuel consumption, local spending, organic purchases, healthier choices, supporting small business and help thy neighbor all at the same time results in marathon pondering sessions for me…)

I went to the Loaf-n-Jug this afternoon.

To get cigs.

Because I smoke more when reading about proposed Federal legislation…

This store used to carry American Spirit menthol cigarettes.

(warning! you have to enter a suitable date of birth in order to visit this site, and tell them if you’re a smoker or not…their good-faith attempt to comply with Federal Regulations…)

For about  a year, however, they did not have any in stock during my occasional forays.

So I end up purchasing the brand I smoked before I knew better….

Which violates every previously listed principal, except my desire to support my neighbor’s livelihood and gas consumption goals.

(I also occasionally use my debit card for a $6.59 purchase, just to give those who dislike me fodder to sell to National Enquirer. “Look at her in Loaf-n-Jug, in her pj’s, no make-up and using, gasp, a debit card….”)

Today, after making my purchase, I’m informed by the clerk they do have American Spirit.   Great!

I patiently wait to exchange the cigs I just purchased for ones I really prefer, while the one clerk takes care of the customer traffic that used to be cared for by 2 clerks.  (company’s way of keeping the CEO and stockholders in beach houses, I guess….)

So after waiting for about 10 minutes, and indicating to the clerk I would like the ‘green ones, please’ imagine my surprise when he shakes his head at my outstretched hand holding the now unwanted purchase for exchange and informs me, apologetically,

“It’s against Federal Law to exchange tobacco products.”

(Apparently, even those which never left his view and are still cellophane wrapped and intact).

I almost killed myself rushing home to find out if this was true, and if so, When The Heck Did That Happen?


Various discussions and sites informing us of the 2009  Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act headed the search engine list.

I never did find anything prohibiting retailers from exchanging purchased tobacco goods, other than regulation banning the “exchange of proof’s of purchase or coupons for non-tobacco products.”  (Which means, you can’t save your box tops for cool t-shirts or ashtrays anymore)

I did learn, however, that the FDA has decided advertisements must be in Black and White (Now I know why the generic brand of cereal is in a colored box now…it was afraid of being mistaken as a pack of cigarettes.)

I also learned Kentucky (big surprise there!) is fighting a battle against the FDA, citing 1st Amendment violations.

Interestingly, this battle centers around the Black and White Advertisement regulation, rather than around the prohibition regarding use of the words “low”, “mild” or “light” in tobacco products’ name without first asking permission of God, via the FDA.


I will share with you another interesting tidbit.  My other favorite company for tobacco purchases is Nat Sherman.  Nearly 2 years ago, I started seeing little ‘notifiers’ printed on the separation sheaf that used to tell me about the history of the company.

I’ll paraphrase for you:

“Due to regulation changes, we are now required to label our Mint cigarettes as Menthol, in order not to lure children into using our product.   We are not changing a single thing about the contents or production of the cigarette you have come to enjoy, but we must comply with those who keep our children safe or else face big  fines if we do not.”

In other words, the FDA has them in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t catch-22.

If they comply with keeping children safe, they are in turn, guilty of false advertisement.

Hmmm…..which fine/penalty is lower?  Which regulation is most rigorously enforced?

I have my answer – I regularly view numerous examples of false advertisement in 2.6 seconds of commercial TV or internet surfing.

Glad to get that off my chest…