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What the hell is organic tobacco? And where can you get some?

Dear Michael and friends,

Thanks for your email. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (SFNTC) started out in 1982 as a very small, privately held business. Over the years, our loyal consumers helped us to grow substantially. Our decision to become an independent subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) afforded us the freedom and the resources to support and expand our ever-growing marketing base, thus offering wider availability of the Natural American Spirit brand to both national and international markets. We continue to operate independently; we’re proud that our culture and our product remain unchanged. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) is our sister company; our business practices are independent of their business practices.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company has continued to operate with its current employees as an autonomous subsidiary of RAI. SFNTC’s corporate headquarters remain in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with manufacturing and distribution facilities in Oxford, North Carolina and a western distribution center in Reno, Nevada.

Natural American Spirit products have not changed. We continue to offer the exact same additive-free, whole leaf, natural tobacco products that you have come to know and expect. All Natural American Spirit Products continue to be produced in SFNTC’s factory in Oxford, NC, which is dedicated exclusively to Natural American Spirit products, using the same high-quality components and the same carefully selected tobacco.

Rest assured that consumers, retailers, and distributors have experienced no change in their business transactions with SFNTC. Our company continues to operate with the same corporate culture and business philosophy.

The tobacco used in Natural American Spirit organic tobacco products is grown according to certified organic standards. The tobacco is certified by the National Organic Program under the USDA through every step of the growing process. We have always contracted directly with our organic tobacco growers, so we know all of them personally and have visited their farms. We have no hesitation in assuring you that Natural American Spirit organic tobacco products are just as good, if not better, than they ever have been.

§ In October 2002, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented its Final Rule for the National Organic Program (NOP).

§ The NOP establishes the first nationwide standards for the production and handling of organically produced products and for the use of the label term “organic.” These standards apply equally to every U.S. grower and manufacturer of organic products.

§ The NOP replaces the old “patchwork” system of state and private organic certification in which organic standards varied from state to state.

§ Also prior to the NOP, SFNTC was required to have only our tobacco certified as organically grown by state organic certification agencies in order to use the label term “organic.”

§ Under the NOP, it is required that not only our tobacco, but every process involved in its production and manufacturing – receiving, stemming, shipping, storage, primary processing, and manufacturing – be inspected and certified in order to make an organic claim.

§ Our inspection and certification is handled by Quality Certification Services (QCS) – a USDA-certified agency we chose based on a prior relationship through our organic growers program.

Reference: http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/CertifyingAgents/Accredited.html or search for National Organic Program on the Internet.

We hope this information is helpful to you and your friends, Michael. If you have any further questions or concerns, please call 1-800-332-5595 and ask for Martha or Holly in Communications. Either of them will be happy to help you!

Best regards,

The People of Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company

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SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting

Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Risks to Your Health.

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No additives in our tobacco

does NOT mean a safer cigarette.

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From: michael norton [mailto:fottahsol@yahoo.com]
Sent: Monday, February 11, 2008 5:28 PM
To: Feedback
Subject: organic quality same since RAI purchase

Hello Sir or Maam,

I was buying American Spirit Organic Cigarettes but recently the question of "how organic are they really" has come up in my circle of friends. We know the company has been purchased by RJR and we are hoping that the quality has not suffered one iota (bit) because of the takeover. I will not buy another pack until I know for sure that the quality of the organic cigarettes under the name American Spirit are as good or better than before RJR came into the picture. I ask for and appreciate your honest response to my inquiry.

Sincerely, Michael Norton and Friends

ps. below are a couple of blogs I found during my search that relate to your company:

Hi folks, I'm from the Uk and thought I'd add my own bit from this end of the hemosphere! This is a very interesting debate and as a smoker who enjoys smoking and refuses to be made to feel guilty about it as it's my only vice. But I would still prefer less chemicals in my cigarettes. I felt compelled to get some real answers to the questions and doubts raised here so I have emailed the American Spirit company direct with the following questions and I will post their reply here if I get one. Maybe it will help clear things up and maybe not.
Email sent .........
I was looking down your list of non used additives and though I'm pleased that you don't use them some of them appear to be harmless like raisin juice.
What I am very concerned about is the use of phosphate fertilisers, the ones that contain the trace radioactive isotopes of lead and polonium which are very carcinogenic. Please could you advise if these are used in either the normal or organic versions?

The number of additives you claim to not put in has gone down from 599 to 464 and although you explain in your FAQ section that this is because other tobacco companies now use less chemicals you do not reassure us that you have not added any of the other 135 chemicals that were previously included in the 599 and are therefore still excluding all the previous 599.
Can you confirm this? If so please add it to your website.

Doubts are on many internet sites about the long term integrity of the take over company R.J. Reynolds who bought Santa Fe Natural Tobacco.
With the continued growth and demand in the market for cleaner cigs it is imperative that you do not lose your status as a non additive cigarette or the next independent that does will surely be preferred by all your customers and you would lose most of them.

Yes, we all know smoking cigarettes is bad for you but if you must than the ones with less chemicals must be significantly less bad for you, well I hope so anyway!

Posted by: Linda | July 19, 2006 07:15 PM

i have been smoking american spirit organic roll your own's for a few years now. over the last year, i have noticed the tobacco flavor has changed a bit, and keeps changing with every new bag. i have also been plagued with chain smoking and numerouse failed attempts to quit smoking.

i have heard the rumors that R.J. Reynolds bought out Santa Fe Naturals and that American Spirits have nicotene levels anywhere from 5-10 times that of other brands. i am slowly reading up and finding out that these rumors may be true.

my suspicion is that American Spirit is somehow modifying their plants (through bioengineering) to come up with a stronger, more nicotine potent plant. other American Spirit smokers, have you noticed any changes in the past year-year and half. the bioengineering suspicion could be as simple as cross breeding the stronger plants.

i do understand that the FDA & USDA, have really relaxed definitions on organic farming, so that may explain the flavor that i am experiencing with the new tobacco. perhaps i am to blame for a more intense addiction to nicotene and smoking in general. perhaps big tobacco is at it again, trying to get us hooked through their usual deceptive games, tricking us to smoke their cigarettes because they are more "natural."

please, anyone else with a similar idea that we are being tricked again, let me know so i am not crazy.

Posted by: mike | August 1, 2006 08:35 PM

The tobacco plant in order to protect itself from natural predators employs at least two poisonous elements. These are nicotine and polonium 210. These will kill most of the bugs anyway. American Spirits has had it figured out that by the use of "natural" urea (urine) you can ingest more of both of these elements into your system.

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