There is also a great deal of accountability required for SMA condoned imports. None of the large importers in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston or Miami conform to SMA guidelines. To get around these guidelines, importers simply do not blow a hole at the bottom of the bowl. Because the bowl has no hole upon entry, the importer then drills a hole in the bottom of the bowl.
Most of the importers care so little for the end consumer that the noxious glass dust from the drilling process is left inside the pipe, only to be inhaled by the consumer during first use of the pipe! Glass dust is 100 times MORE DANGEROUS THAN ASBESTOS! Not only is the dust a horrible leftover of the drilling process, drilling leaves permanent stress in the glass surrounding the new hole. Residual stress is the number one reason for failure (cracking/breaking) of glass pipes over time. It is exponentially more prone to failure where the glass is constantly expanded and contracted by heat. Most notably this occurs at the bottom of the bowl where heat is concentrated during the lighting of tobacco, and is precisely where importers drill and impart enormous amounts of residual stress. Annealing ovens are expensive and are often not available in the third world countries where they manufacture the pipes. Ovens also draw enormous amounts of electricity, again, often not available in these countries. Annealing is the same process used in the production of steel to allow the molecules to flow back into re-alignment after the steel has been shaped and formed. In much the same way, glass flows back into it’s polarized alignment and strongest state once properly annealed over the course of several hours in a specialized glass-annealing oven.
You pay a lot for your glass pipe whether it is imported or domestic. Imported Glass fails 100 times more often than domestically produced products simply because of the drilling process and the fact that the finished product is not annealed properly. As an aside: Always wanted a glass sex toy, but could never afford it? Guess what, it’s probably imported and was most probably not annealed. The same truth of glasswork in pipes is even truer for sex toys due to the thickness of the glass. Sex toys average a requirement of 3x the annealing time of pipes. There are no limitations or restrictions on the country of origin of sex toys! Be careful where you put that thing, and while its there, if it is a cheap imitation, don’t push the limits too far, you may be surprised at how brittle solid thick glass can be! So, don’t get off on a tirade that we are espousing some one-world order, were not. One should know, however, that according to readily available videos on the internet, customs documents, and numerous articles by National Geographic, Amnesty International, Green Peace and others, indentured child servitude (child slave labor) is rampant in developing third world countries. It’s not just that the items are cheap; it’s why they are cheap. Children die making imported glass pipes on a daily basis. Some of you who have been to these countries to source fabrics, bags, beads and the like have seen these “factories” up close and personal. Do you really want to support people who chain five year olds to a stake in the ground? Labor is the key ingredient in glass pipes, so to make them cheap, one must have cheap labor. Importers typically pay less than five cents a day for a child to be enslaved for their use. Care to be educated and disgusted at the same time? Okay, so your response is something like…child slave labor was rampant in America at the turn of the century during our industrial revolution, so while it may be wrong, maybe it’s their turn? Well, flawed as that statement is from a human dignity perspective, how about your checkbook? In December of 2003, the main importer in Miami was busted in a customs sting. He was busted not only for contraband, but also for what he was doing with the cash he had collected from several smoke shops in the greater Miami area. That importer was attempting to use the cash to pay for a container of Chinese made AK-47 assault rifles. Perfectly legal, except that the cash was also to bribe the Chinese manufacturer to change the destination from the US over to Palestine mid-shipment so as to avoid any customs intervention in the US. I mean, really, just what we need in the Middle East—more guns.
And just what we need for our industry—glass pipes tied to terrorists. Many of the stores who had purchased the contraband were served with civil forfeiture warrants through customs and were accompanied by DEA officials. The stores were stripped of all tobacco accessories (some lost more than $100,000 in inventory) because the agents “could not differentiate” between the items, so that everything was seized in an effort to “not miss any legitimate evidence” against the importer.
After the link between the glass pipes, cash, guns and terrorists was made, a wave of store search and seizures occurred in the greater Miami area. Since the initial link was established, several of the major importers have been busted, most recently in Los Angeles, where the single largest producer of chemical pipes, bongs and other glass ornaments was confiscated. Imported Pipes = Child Slavery + Terrorists + Dangerous Glass Dust + Lousy Quality + American Artists Out of Work. All for an over price differential of between $3 and $10. As a retailer, is the $3 worth getting a visit from customs?