Why Smoke a Pipe

If you're new to pipe smoking or considering trying it, you may be wondering where that notion originated and considering the advantages and disadvantages. Lots of people derive significant satisfaction from pipe smoking. Are you potentially among them? What are the pros and cons, and how quickly can one learn to master the skills necessary for truly enjoying the myriad pipe tobaccos available?

It's a curiosity that we enjoy the tobaccos that we so obviously do. Few enjoy their first pipeful. Why do we continue after that? It's among the oldest of clichés that a new smoker becomes ill. Mark Twain explored that correlation when Huck Finn taught his friends Tom Sawyer and Joe Harper how to smoke. They crawled away to be amusingly miserable after their inaugural pipes.

They would become experts, but there's a learning curve for enjoying pipe tobacco. The first few bowls are often unpleasant, though they leave an impression regarding the flavor and potential. We endure pipes that perform poorly because of our inexperience, pipes that we have improperly filled and that produce thin smoke or hot steamy smoke or anything in between except the right smoke. Yet we persevere and even bravely ask for more.

Those who have access to a good tobacconist (like Smokingpipes, for example) achieve quicker success. A few new pipe smokers are naturally inclined, but they are as rare as other savants in other fields. For the average beginner, it can be a disappointing process of trial-and-error before achieving that first smoke that is pleasant and flavorful through the entire bowl.

I remember navigating my first few bowls of tobacco and thinking that the only way anyone could smoke this stuff regularly was to build calluses on their tongue. So for a while, that's what I tried: I smoked through the tongue bite, the burning, the ash, and the self-denunciating profanity, determined to kill the nerve endings that were troubling me or at least induce a localized stupor from the overstimulation. I would endure the pain until it folded in defeat. It was a happy discovery that it was the way I was smoking that needed modification rather than the sensitivity of my tongue, which never did develop calluses, though it sometimes felt like it was coated with creosote. The epiphany of unnecessary tongue modification was welcome, even though I had hoped that oral desensitivity would assist me through my wonderful wife's unfortunate continuing experiments with tuna casserole.

However, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out. Those were the old days, before the wizardry of computers and the internet. Now it's easier to accelerate one's progress. With advice, perhaps in the form of a little research from a reputable online source (again, like Smokingpipes, for example), enjoyable pipe smoking is quickly achievable.

Pipe smoking is a skill, like juggling, skateboarding, or woodturning. There's an investment of time, practice, and commitment. Why are we so convinced that pipe smoking is worth it?

Pipe smoking is a skill, like juggling

Why Do People Smoke? Influences

Maybe we grew up with a pipe-smoking grandfather or parent, or maybe we admired someone who happened to smoke a pipe. It seems likely, too, that we observed the satisfaction that person derived from their pipe. When a pipe smoker pauses to light up and enjoys a draw of exotic tobaccos, it's evident that they've been momentarily transported to a better place, and we want a piece of that action.

Literature is influential as well, the work of J.R.R Tolkien especially so. Significant numbers of pipe enthusiasts started because of The Lord of the Rings, in which pipe smokers are often heroes who find solace in pipes during their darkest hours. Their satisfaction in the novels is evident, as it is in other great books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Like Tolkien, Twain was an avid pipe smoker and likewise populated his works with fictional smokers. Then too there is Arthur Conan Doyle and his most famous character, Sherlock Holmes. Many other pipe-smoking authors have also inserted pipe smoking into their novels, such as William Faulkner, Herman Melville, P.G. Wodehouse, and Robert Service, to name a few.

Famous scientists with admirable intellects, like Einstein and Hubble, famously smoked pipes, perhaps influencing our opinions of the pastime. Television shows, particularly of the '50s and '60s, like Father Knows Best and My Three Sons, presented pipe smokers as reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent people. If we ever wonder why there are more older pipe smokers than younger, perhaps a contributing factor is their early social environment. Pipe smoking used to be fashionable and even admirable, but the fabric of society has changed in that regard and fewer pipe smokers are visible; we've been relegated to private or indoor smoking. Because tobacco use is less accepted now, our influencers are dwindling and less visible.

... fewer pipe smokers are visible; they've been relegated to private or indoor smoking

With all of the statesmen, scientists, authors, Nobel Laureates, sportsmen, military figures, and the overall admirable comportment of average pipe smokers who clearly derive pleasure from smoking, it's little wonder that many of us are curious.

Pipe Tobacco vs. Cigarettes

Pipe smoking is not like cigarette smoking. Pipe smokers don't typically inhale smoke; it's an activity for appreciating the flavor of the many tobaccos available, and pipe tobacco is not made for inhalation the way cigarette tobacco is. Pipe tobacco is also natural, including any flavorings, while cigarettes contain burn accelerants and nobody-knows-how-many chemicals.

One of the reasons that people inhale cigarette smoke is nicotine. Nicotine is not an inherently harmful compound (except, like everything else, in cases of nearly impossible overdose) but the smoke that carries it is. Some studies have shown nicotine to increase mental stamina and focus one's thoughts. When I was in grad school I could efficiently study 14 hours a day if I was smoking regularly and about eight hours a day if not. That's a big motivation: the brain boost.

... nicotine can increase mental stamina and focus one's thoughts

The nicotine (along with the occasional respite of pausing to relight) that helped me study was not delivered by inhalation but by absorption through the tissues of the mouth. The effect is reduced in comparison to inhalation, and safer, though not without risk. Any activity has pros and cons to consider. Driving is awfully convenient, but is far from safe. Foods high in sugar lead to multiple health problems and diseases, but we sure do enjoy them. Skydiving is a thrill, but not as safe as, say, chess. We make decisions every day about what risks to take, balanced against their immediate gratification and other personal benefits. Smoking is the same. Do your research, and make an informed decision.

Why Do People Smoke Pipes?

Many pick up pipe smoking without previous tobacco experience, but some migrate. One factor that has motivated some to change from cigarette smoking to pipe smoking is cost. Pipe smoking is much less expensive than cigarettes — until you start gravitating to and collecting expensive artisan pipes. However, those who aren't tempted by gorgeous works of rare art as combustion devices save considerably over cigarettes, and there are certainly beautiful and artful pipes in all price ranges.

Others, like me, wake up one morning with the unforeseen determination to buy a pipe and start being a pipe smoker. Maybe all the hints from Einstein and Tolkien nudge our subconscious.

Pipe smoking is a soothing activity. The nicotine may help take some of the sharp edges off of emotions in difficult situations, but the necessary deceleration inherent in pipe smoking is more important to attaining calm and relaxation. We have hectic lives. Pipe smoking offers a comforting envelope of smoke and tranquility. Josh Burgess, Managing Director of Kapp & Peterson, once said, "Cigarettes seem to raise you to the occasion. Pipes, on the other hand, work inversely, lowering the occasion to you." Pipes make situations better, and there's a clear difference between pipe and cigarette smoking.

Pipe smoking offers a comforting envelope of smoke and tranquility

Jeremy Reeves, Head Blender for Cornell & Diehl, has noted that pipe smokers tend to exhibit their own particular characteristics: "People who smoke pipes are often charmingly eccentric, introspective, intellectual, patient, and boisterous, all rolled into one. Without souls of such a variation of experience, personality and vibrancy, our hobby would be just a ham sandwich, tasty and enjoyable, but devoid of culture."

"I like that pipe smoking is more hobby than habit," says Ted Swearingen, COO of Laudisi Enterprises, the parent company of Smokingpipes. "When I smoke a cigarette, I feel like I'm managing my stress in a tense way; but when smoking a pipe, I feel like I'm managing my stress in a much more relaxed, natural way."

Pipes don't provide instant gratification the way cigarettes do. One must slow down, gather the necessary elements, prepare the tobacco and the pipe, and light and tamp the tobacco two or three times before a good rhythm mobilizes and keeps the pipe lit, and then it must be relit and re-tamped throughout the smoke. To do all of that, it's necessary to let at least a little concentration drift from the pending bills or assignment or the disagreement with Chad in Accounting and indulge in something more pleasant. Lighting a pipe manifests a sphere of calm that blunts incoming pressures. Sometimes I think of my pipes as individual deserted tropical islands, and when I light one, I'm stepping onto that island, separated from the rest of the world in my own parallel universe. When the pipe is done, I come back refreshed. Pipes are mini-vacations.

Pipes have sustained me in troubling times and celebrated with me on momentous occasions, indisputingly enhancing both. I'm unable to explain these phenomena, but I'm not alone in appreciating them. It's estimated that there are approximately a million pipe smokers in the U.S. alone, and millions more worldwide. They all find something in pipe smoking that makes their lives better.

Some people are fidgeters. Observe, for example, the popularity of fidget spinners. I am more composed when my hands are occupied, and pipe smoking is a simple task that requires continuous but easy monitoring, like driving but without the irritation of other drivers. With a pipe, there's always something for my hands to do, whether shifting it from one to the other, relighting, tamping, running a pipe cleaner through it, or just turning it to appreciate its shape and construction from all angles. If you're the same, pipe smoking is a solution.

I suspect that most pipe smokers enjoy being alone with their thoughts. While it may be a cliché that cerebral-types smoke pipes (Einstein and Hubble were pretty smart), it remains an excellent activity for both daydreaming and focused thinking. Sometimes the solution to a tough problem is just on the other side of a bowl of fine Virginia tobacco.

Sometimes the solution to a tough problem is just on the other side of a bowl of fine Virginia tobacco

The Pipe Smoking Community

Pipe smokers are relatively rare. I think I've seen one other driver smoking a pipe in the last two years, and otherwise, since smoking isn't permitted anywhere, we're relatively invisible. Some cities have pipe clubs with regular meetings where stories may be told, pipes shown around for the admiration of others, trades instigated, and tobaccos shared. Pipe clubs and pipe shows are the last bastions of public pipe smoking.

There are also thriving online communities. Here on the Smokingpipes website, for example, you can see some of it in the comments for Daily Reader articles and in the product reviews. There's a dynamic YouTube community of pipe smokers with lively commentary. There are Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts, and many very active forums like PipesMagazine, r/pipetobacco Reddit, The Briar Patch, Pipe Smokers Forums, and more. While pipe smoking is not as prevalent as in previous generations, the opportunity for interaction with other pipe smokers has never been so robust. Questions posed and thoughtful, informed, unforeseen answers are mere mouse-clicks away.

... the opportunity for interaction with other pipe smokers has never been so robust

In addition, finding favorite tobaccos is easier now with sites dedicated to reviews. TobaccoReviews is the largest, with tens of thousands of reviews written by regular smokers voicing their opinions. It's a terrific resource and an enormous benefit for those searching out new tobaccos among the thousands of choices.

The Modern Convenience of Online Pipe Shopping

With the gradual reduction in the numbers of pipe smokers since the mid-20th century, brick-and-mortar tobacconists have likewise diminished. Where there once stood pipe shops within walking distance of any urban location, now there may be only one in an entire city or none at all. However, we pipe smokers have compensated. We have developed online resources, and they're easy to use.

One need only browse the site of any reputable tobacconist (like Smokingpipes, for exam— nevermind, you get it) to see excellent photos of more pipes than could ever be contained in a physical shop, and more tobaccos as well. We send newsletters at least twice a week and a digest of weekly articles on Sundays for those who sign up for email delivery (note the red "subscribe" button at the top right of our web pages), and we publish articles and videos weekly about tobaccos, pipe makers, historical and interesting pipe smokers, smoking techniques, and everything else pertaining and of interest to pipe smokers. We are pipe smokers who work where we do because we love pipes and everything about them.

Infinite Adjustability

There's a key advantage to pipe smoking that has yet to be discussed: the freedom to modify one's smoke in infinite ways.

Not only are there thousands of tobacco blends with myriad individual characteristics to choose from, but the flavor and performance of any tobacco are dependent upon numerous adjustable factors, including moisture level, cut, the type of pipe used, the dimensions of the pipe used, the pressure used to load the bowl, and puffing cadence, rhythm, and technique.

Pipe smokers also have the option of mixing different existing blends or purchasing component tobaccos and developing personal recipes. Can't do that with cigarettes. Pipes win.

If you're thinking of delving into pipe smoking, now is the best time in history. The available pipes are the most carefully crafted, beautiful, and advanced, efficient smoking instruments known, and while we miss some of the classic tobaccos of old, modern tobaccos are some of the most nuanced and flavorful ever produced. For new pipe smokers, we recommend pipes in the Savinelli and Peterson lineups, as well as Estate Pipes, which provide lower cost and pre-break-in properties while being entirely refurbished and a source of pride.

... modern tobaccos are some of the most nuanced and flavorful ever produced

No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a potential new pastime without experiencing it, and the lowest-cost option is corn cob pipes, which smoke very well. They don't last as long as briar and are arguably not quite as comfortable in the teeth as pipes with more time-consuming and expensive stem shaping and finishing, but they offer the pipe smoking experience without excessive investment and perform well. Cobs are a great way to see if pipe smoking is for you.

The reasons for pipe smoking are simple: the pursuit of relaxation and enjoyment, whether in the company of other pipe smokers or alone. If that interests you, have a look at our store and our blog. Amazing new worlds are about to reveal themselves.

This article was originally published on September 30th, 2014. It has been updated and expanded for 2022.

Category:   Pipe Line
Tagged in:   At Smokingpipes Pipe Culture

Comments

    • Cliff on October 3, 2014
    • Why did I start smoking a pipe? I was spending $10 a pop on cigars while my friends were spending next to nothing on pipe tobacco. I figured I'd save a lot of money becoming a pipe smoker. Ha! Nobody told me about Pipe Acquisition Disorder at the time ;-)

    • Andrew W on October 3, 2014
    • Thanks for sharing, Cliff! That chronic P.A.D. sure is tough to shake. :)

    • Gregory T on October 4, 2014
    • It was in the 70s and I was working on a tobacco farm outside Inglewood. My grandad was a pipe smoker and a bloke who worked in the old Tobacco Plant made me up some of the old style tobacco that they stopped making in the 50s. I had to buy a pipe of course...and I took my time beside an old swimming hole after work becoming firmly acquainted. And yes: I have about a dozen pipes...PAD is just under control!!

    • Phil on October 4, 2014
    • Well, for me it has nothing to do with camaraderie. I smoke only by myself, and prefer it that way. I smoke only in the late evening after dinner. In the 80s, when I picked up the pipe, I quickly graduated to the best tobaccos. I loved the overall British and Scottish tradition of pipe smoking as experienced through the various classic blends. I smoked Balkan Sobranie Original mixture every night. I love the art of smoking which can only be done via a pipe or a real cigar, just as I love playing jazz guitar or reading literature or staring at Van Gogh prints or watching BBC 19th Century Period dramas.

    • Alexander on October 6, 2014
    • Only a newbie here, only a single, heavily used turtle-shell briar Oom Paul, wishing I had moneynfor a new pipe or even just a good sampling of blends. I still have no clue why I smoke, but while the other kids smoke a pack a day, I sit and puff at my pipe and look forward to my smoke. I don't do it to scratch an itch, but to relax.

    • Andrew W on October 6, 2014
    • Gregory, thanks for sharing! My grandfather also worked in a tobacco plant, so I can relate to your beginnings. He never smoked a pipe though; it was my great grandfather who preferred briar. I remember watching him in the garden as a kid. One time he stuck his pipe in one of the front pockets of his overalls, and as he reached down to pick some tomatoes, he jumped up, shouted, and began running around in circles. He and I both learned that day that it's good practice to let your pipe go all the way out before stowing it away. Glad to hear you've got P. A. D. under control.

    • Andrew W on October 6, 2014
    • Phil, thanks for sharing! While I do enjoy a smoke with friends and co-workers, I also really appreciate those quiet moments to myself. There's nothing but me, my favorite blend, and my thoughts. It's kind of like therapy really, as all the problems of the world fade away with thick wisps of smoke. There's just nothing quite like it, really.

    • Andrew W on October 6, 2014
    • Well, said Alexander. As Bear said, a smoke is something we anticipate, something we look forward to, rather than the quick nicotine fix of a cigarette. There's nothing wrong with being a newbie. No one builds up a collection of pipes and tobaccos overnight; it's just something that comes with time. And if there's anything pipe smoking teaches us, it's patience. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Phil on October 6, 2014
    • Hello Andrew, and thanks for your response. I have enjoyed smoking cigars with a few friends over the years. I do that when I get the chance, but it's not that often. The pipe, though for me is a solitary act. I love the art of smoking as I mentioned. Choosing a blend and pipe, and filling my pipe with tobacco that I've left out on piece of paper the night before, is a bit of ritual. I love the classic blends and we are fortunate that they are still produced. You are right, there is nothing like it. And I don't have to explain it to anyone. It's a peaceful and thoughtful activity.

    • Travis on October 8, 2014
    • This conversation reminds reminds me of the first time I walked into a pipe shop. I remember, I used to go in just to smell the tobacco in the back of the shop. It wasn't long before I bought my first pipe. Smoking for me is something that can be done with a group of friends sitting around having a pint or sitting on the beach by myself reading a good book and relaxing while watching the sunset. When I smoke it feels like I have just stepped out of a rushing tide and I can slow down and watch the world fly by.

    • pacman357 on October 13, 2014
    • Because I can, dammit.

    • muntajab on October 23, 2014
    • Well...once you smoke something for more than 3 months it becomes a habit you love. So the question should be "why did you choose to smoke a pipe?"at the first place, and "why are you still in favor of smoking a pipe than other things?". As in any other self-inquiry, we fall into lots of justifications and rationalizations before we find the true answer. But since we are not lying on the couch of a psychoanalyst here, we need not to be concerned about the deep answers. When I started to smoke a pipe it was because I did not want to be a cigarette addicted. My brother told me why don't you smoke a pipe, in an attempt to make me avoid ciggarettes as I started to smoke. Well I smoked it for few months then I decided to quit smoking altogether. I threw it in the sea with the lighter and tobacco :D and I gave away all smokig tools. Later I came back to smoking, to all sorts of it. But I ended up smoking a pipe again. Then during military servuce, I became addicted to cigarettes, and pipe became a hobby from time to time. Then few month ago, I decided to end my slavery to cigarettes and get back to my old friend, the pipe :) Once you set yourself to pipe smoking you soon enjoy the thousands of blesses of it, after a short time of obstacles :P. Among the rest other types of smoking, I feel that a pipe smoking cultivates us. It is both a joy for the body and the mind, an art, it has rituals, and it trains you and helps you to deal with life with cooler mentality. A pipe is not for heated headed people. That is why it is usually associated with thinkers , with patience.

    • Mark Hoffman on January 5, 2015
    • In high school I worked for a large grocery store chain that had a smoke shop in it. This was in the late 70s-80s time frame. The pipe smokers where very friendly customers I enjoyed working with. I sold pipes and pipe tobacco. I loved the smell of the pipe. This is what attracted me to smoking a pipe. I smoked off and on through HS and college. gave it up after college graduation. I became a traveling salesman in the early 90s. While working in Asheville NC, I took a client out for dinner. We went to a smoke shop after dinner. I smelled the aromatic tobacco and saw a very interesting pipe. I purchased the pipe and started up again. I am not a daily pipe smoker. My wife detest me smoking my pipe. So it has been a little stress in our relationship. I really find it to be a calming effect for me. I live in a beautiful area. At the foothills of the TN mountains. I still drive a lot. When I find a enjoyable place to smoke I pull of and take in a pleasurable smoke. I wish I had friends that smoked a pipe as well. However its still my stand alone fun time. I pray I never am forced to give it up. It really bothers me that society has made even smoking a pipe a taboo. When I smoke a pipe I feel close to my father who smoked a pipe when I was very young. It us like being part of a past I miss. ;)

    • Matt on January 24, 2015
    • I, like some others, have early childhood memories of my Grandfather smoking his pipe. The ritual of it all. His spot on the "davenport" with his glass of beer and smoking items within reach on the end table. My job as a youngster was to blow out his matches. I am just a newbie to all of this in my adult life. I believe that I have been drawn to pipe smoking by these memories which trigger a welcome level of comfort, calmness, and reflection during a time in my life consumed with change and anxiety due to divorce. I enjoy the ritual of the process and preparation for smoking my pipe, and the relaxing calm that I find when enjoying it. I am able to sit and reflect on where I've been in life, and where I want to go. I hope to find myself again, and look forward to experiencing the joy of new pipes and tobaccos for years to come!

    • John "Ambush" S. on January 31, 2015
    • Why do I smoke a pipe..hmm. Well myself and some fellow bikers/friends/brothers ride all over this great country of ours sharing the experiences of the road. On our many stops at local watering holes, ma and pops cafes, scenic turn-outs etc. we generally like to relax and shot-the-$h!t and "contemplate" this great country and the freedom we have (so far). Most of these compadres like their cigars, a few have become interested in pipes. I decided on trying the tobacco pipe. I am a hobbist/craftsman, be it metal, wood, whatever. I started with a few new pipes, inexpensive basket pipes and then started looking on EBay and elseware for pipe deals. I am also a fan of history, and tobacco and pipes are a large part of this country's history. Well...it started..I love the shear diversity in pipes and tobacco and I am drawn to the old ways and somehow preserving them for the next generations, lest they be lost. I started restoring, restemming, repairing pipes that may have been tomorrow's garbage. Just seeing the quality of some of those old pipes is amazing. Sadly you would be hard pressed to find that type of quality in day to day items, as pipes once were, in todays market. I smoke my pipes while working in the shop restoring other pipes and at those frequent BS sessions with close friends...or anyone else for that matter (at least anyone that will brave the smoke). Smoking is definitely a social activity, for myself at least. Trying out different tobaccos is a quest in and of itself. Sharing those tobaccos with others is also satisfying for me as well. After all, there is a reason some are called peace pipes. I also grew my own tobacco. Here in Montana, I got it to grow, but it is just too dry to air dry color cure without some way to bump up and control the humidity :( this was just another way for me to experience a part of history and culture. Anyway, I have only been smoking pipes since October of 2013 and I have amassed over 225 pipes and 70 tobaccos (not including my own partially failed attempt). In the end, I would say that smoking pipes let me relax in several aspects, be it alone just thinking, restoring old pipes, growing a garden of tobac, or the great friendships and bonds that either start or grow closer with a "wee bit of smoke".

    • Jason on February 23, 2015
    • Not long after hanging out with friend in my early teens, I was given the opportunity to smoke, but not a cigarette but a cigar. A Hav-A-Tampa at that. That on again/off again cigar relationship over the years led me to pipes. I enjoyed the process of smoking a pipe and appreciated the time of reflection it gave me. The collecting bug is also hard to ignore as well. I love the fact that a pipe can be multi-generational as antique furniture, but more personal to the owner.

    • Fred Neslage on March 6, 2015
    • I was first exposed to pipe smoking while working a part time job plowing for a Farmer, while in high school. I had occasional smoked cigarettes like all other boys during the 1950's but most of the time I didn't for a lack of funds. Anyhow this Farmer would always enjoy a pipe smoke after each meal. The first time he fired up that Kaywoodie and I smelled the Prince Albert I was hooked. Later on when I serving in the Arny, Tobacco products were very inexpensive. I immediately brought a couple Kaywoodies and I believe Carter Hall tobacco. I have smoked pipes on and off for over 50 years. I mostly smoke in the evenings now. The reason I prefer pipes over other tobacco products are several. It's relaxing and do enjoy the ritual of loading my pipe. While I am enjoying my pipe I like to meditate and sort of replay the days activities. I belong to a pipe club and it is both enjoyable and educational. Finally, it's a great hobby and where else can you meet such a variety of great guys. I hope pipe smoking continues to grow and more young men get to experience a great hobby.
      Fred Neslage

    • Ahmad Gopi on March 10, 2015
    • I started to smoke without company or friends and it was clear for pure and high quality tobacco make me travel to another world through time from wisdom to ancient, every time I smoke I feel good after it. now I used to smoke Dunhill icons like mixture 965 and night cap for long nights winter.

    • Tom M on March 12, 2015
    • My father smoked a pipe, but he died when I was an infant. When I was older, I found a few of his pipes in a drawer where they'd been stowed. Of course, they still had that mystical aroma. I started smoking pipes myself when I was in college. A connection across time.

    • Chris on March 24, 2015
    • Why do I smoke a Pipe? 4 words.... "Lord Of The Rings" I read lord of the rings in High School and loved it so much I wanted my life to emulate that of Bilbo Baggins, live the simple life, eat mushrooms and smoke "Old Toby" from a pipe. At age 16 I went to the local mall in Lexington Ky. and convinced the owner to let me work at her shop and she didn't even have to pay me money, but pay me in pipes, so she did, I still have the first pipe I earned a "Ben Wade" freehand.

    • Craig on April 27, 2015
    • Oh you gentlemen are making me jealous. I have to admit, I've never smoked anything in my life, however just lately have been considering trying the pipe.

      My father smoked a pipe when I was young. He gave up after he gad angina. I believe he smoked seven seas black cherry tobacco but I'm not certain. Well dad died in 2012 and although he never went back to smoking a pipe he once told me "if I make it to 70 I might smoke a pipe again." He died aged 75.

      Perhaps this is why I am drawn to the pipe, to connect with my father.

      Craig - UK.

    • John H on May 12, 2015
    • Why do I smoke? Because while I smoke I just sit and relax. Looking off into the wild blue yonder. Now really having to fix anything or do anything. Only sit, relax and enjoy the tobacco. We need some down time in our hectic lives. Some quite time, not to reflect on what we did or what we are to do. But just some down time. Calm, peaceful down time.

    • Chris G on May 24, 2015
    • I really wanted an alternative to smoking cigarettes.I really was drawn to pipe smoking by the wonderful scents the pipe tobacco offered.I really enjoy the longer time I can sit and relax with a pipe then just have a quick sit for a cigarette.It was a tough journey but I managed to completely turn my leisure time to smoking a pipe.It just keeps getting better and better.

    • Russell P on June 16, 2015
    • The short version is nostalgia and a relaxing hobby - best enjoyed during my many outdoor adventures. The longer version is grand-uncle Jim was a master chief in the United States Navy and all of my short memories of him were his smoking a pipe, that sweet aroma he left in a room, and his big smile. Later I learned how much he influenced my father's life when he was serving his stint in the Navy. I gave up smoking cigarettes in early 2000's so that I could breathe better for my newly acquired running hobby. I never much cared for it anyway. Ten plus years later, I happened across a young man with a pipe soon after I left Navy boot camp. I saw in him a young uncle Jim and that was that. I soon learned the knack and how relaxing it was at an early morning campsite or in my kayak fishing.

    • Mark Shuttleworth on July 10, 2015
    • My father always smoked a pipe. I always just loved the aroma. I loved the old tobacco shops with all the pipes, tobaccos and cigars. Cigarettes never appealed to me. Never found them attractive or soothing and stubbed out cigarettes are disgusting things. I love cigars but they have become too expensive and I always drop ash everywhere. Now a pipe is relaxing. It's soothing. It's traditional and mildly eccentric which suits my personality. Pipe smokers tend to be solid, reliable and amiable people. On the health side one is smoking a much more pure tobacco and not inhaling. Most pipe smokers like cigar smokers are not smoking non stop as cigarette smokers often are. As for pipes themselves, well some of them are works of art. I love smoking a pipe.

    • Jim on July 10, 2015
    • My dad occasionally smoked a pipe, and even though he smokes inexpensive "drug store" type tobaccos, as a little kid I loved the aroma it gave off. My mom's brother, Uncle Hal, also smoked pipes. My honors professor and thesis advisor at college smoked pipes. That uncle I mentioned collected pipes, and he got me started in collecting them myself, way back when. They've all passed on now, and I carry on the tradition. I find smoking a pipe to be a contemplative, almost meditative, experience. I work in a high-stress environment, and smoking a pipe is relaxing and enjoyable when I get home after work.
      MARK: I absolutely agree with everything you wrote about pipes, cigars, cigarettes, and especially your characterization of pie smokers as "solid, reliable, amiable people!" Bravo! BTW, here's a tip for you -- I know it can be painful to spend a lot for a cigar when you know you're going to destroy it by smoking it and (unlike with a pipe) afterward you will have nothing to keep (except maybe the memory of a great smoke). However, really fine quality (and therefore usually costly) handmade cigars will hold together and keep their ash for a surprisingly long time before the ash drops off of its own weight (that is of course unless you knock the ash off or force it to break by moving the cigar around abruptly). A good ashtray designed especially for cigars (such as with a long supportive tray or shelf for the lit cigar to rest on above the actual ashtray itself) might help, too.

    • Ben on July 20, 2015
    • My grandpa use to smoke a pipe and it makes me feel closer to his memory when I smoke one. Also I love the different taste and smells of the tobacco. It's like tasting different single malt scotch or good craft beer stouts.

    • lee brown on July 30, 2015
    • My father smoked both pipe and cigar. He had a cigar in the morning after that first cup of coffee and after dinner at night. The rest of the time it was a pipe. There was something about a pipe that fascinated me. I wanted to be so much like him. I remember very young going to his pipe rack and putting a pipe in my mount. It tasted horrible! I would then sneak up behind my mother and in a deep voice (as deep as a six year old can make it) call out, "Kiddo, I'm home." Mom would turn around and in 'surprise' say, "I thought it was your father." She just made my day. I kept 'surprising' her this way for a few more weeks (sometimes, two and three times a day). I grew up and in my teens took up pipe smoking (my friends were sneaking cigarettes). I been smoking pipes since then. As an adult, I would sit with my father and we would talk almost about anything while smoking our pipes. Great times. My father passed away a number of years ago and Mom (a very active 91 year old) lives not to far from me. I call her every night. Once returning from a trip I called her and said, “I’m home.” She paused a little and said, "You sound just like your father." She can still make my day.

    • james strathy on August 1, 2015
    • my folks tried to cut me off at the pass so to speak. but i got hooked on ciggies anyway. finally i dumped the sticks. i must confess the pipe smoke masked certain illegal substances in my teenage years! now it is my hobby and greatest joy to smoke the pipe. a wee nip o scotch. i still have that first chacom some 34 years later. amphora brown still resides in the cellar along with all the new stuff from you good folks.life is good!

    • Kevin Mitchell on August 3, 2015
    • My grandfather owned a cigar and tobacco store / pool hall ... the aromas are a link to the past. Predominant was the cherry Cavendish, a name I learned and remembered at the age of 5.
      Fast forward over 50 years ... something gave me the need for reconnection. I smelled cherry Cavendish in a smoke shop, picked up a decent inexpensive pipe, and jumped into the ritual. It's contemplative, it's a connection with personal history and the legacy of tobacco, it's a return to a quieter time. And pipes ... they are works of art.

    • Tucker Boudreau on August 23, 2015
    • Why do i smoke a pipe ? Because I got a speeding ticket of course. Believe it or not it all comes back to that 7am speed trap I didn't see until it was too late. Later in the day, a good friend of mine who is well connected happened to call me to ask me something. We got chatting and I mentioned I had got pinched on the way to work. Turns out his business partner was related to the Court Magistrate....who knew !!! It is a small world. Several weeks later all was taken care of. I wanted to thank my friend's business partner....but how ? I was informed he smoked cigars. BINGO ! I set out to buy him a box. What an education that was ! Who knew there were so many kinds, shapes, ring sizes, lengths, etc. I had to enlist the help of a friend who was wiser than myself in such things. Best advice he gave me was to find out what the man smoked and buy that kind of cigar. One quick phone call and I was on my way. My friend who is a police officer went with me. While in the walk in humidor he asked: "Have you ever smoked a cigar?" "No", "Want to try one ?", "Yeah, why not". One smoke pool side at his house later that day and I was hooked. Loved them!!! Read everything I could about them. Tried all sorts of brands, found friends who smoked them and hung out with them. Clearly I was obsessed about cigars for years. My only set back was I didn't like the smell of stale cigar smoke in the house; and no matter what kind of air scrubber I used, or candles I lit, or how many windows I had opened, the stink of dead cigar smoke made me gag. I found myself sanctioning myself to the porch....did I mention I live in Massachusettes ! Winters are long and cold here. A friend suggested pipes as not only a nice alternative to break up the cigars I was smoking but mentioned the smoke wasn't as heavy. As it turned out he was correct. The pipe smoke wasn't anywhere near as heavy and didn't leave nearly as bad a stink in the air. I took to the internet...I read, I studied, I purchased, I smoked and within a years time I quickly became far more obsessed with my pipe smoking than I had ever been with cigars. In my humidor at the moment I have over $700 worth of top brand hand rolled cigars that are aging quite well. Once in a great while I take one with me to the golf course. Other than that, my Petersons, Nordic free hands , and my Boswells, are quickly gaining control over my smoking table. I love the time I spend with my pipes and the art of smoking one...a man alone with his thoughts. And today my thoughts linger back almost 20 years to that fateful day when a police officer stepped out from behind a bush and waved me over to the side of the road to give me a ticket. And I'm grateful he did !

    • Rick on October 12, 2015
    • Pipe smoking is to me a little of what is stated in each comment. But mostly is the enjoyment I feel and the memories associated with pipes and pipe smoking. These two things are very strong each time I light up.

      I am glad that others enjoy this as much as I do.

    • Mike on January 1, 2016
    • To me, smoking a pipe is a solitary act. I enjoy the process, it gives you time to collect yourself and freely think. Most of all, however, I enjoy the opportunity to step out of the way and watch the world as it goes around me and to watch my problems drift away with the smoke.

    • Hamzah Ramadan on March 27, 2016
    • When I sit and start smoking pipe in the evening, I gradually remember the spontanous events of the day. I just enjoy thinking about them more and more and come up with more ideas some of them are solutions, others are imaginations and others are happy and sad ideas that are related to these daily events or just a spin off. In all cases there is a deep sense of relaxation that I have been missing but starts to appear gradually with pipe smoking. The secret for me is the balance between the puffs and what is going and coming like a sudden glance with a great comfort and deep enjoyment that I can only describe within the smoke that starts to disappear in front of my eyes. Why? Nice memories, sad memories that are hidden within my hand in this lovely piece of wood that has been part of my inner self and I can not but adore.

    • Adam O'Neill on March 28, 2016
    • @Hamzah Ramadan Thanks for sharing Hamzah.

    • Al Circeo on January 5, 2017
    • I bought a pipe starter kit on a whim from an online cigar seller. I was just a little curious. Then I started exploring different blends, andvbecame obsessed with building a decent cellar.

      There's something nice about being connected to all the past luminaries who smoked pipes too. I often half joke to my friends and coworkers who smoke cigarettes that it's time for them to take their tobacco like grownups (ha ha).

      There's the sense of accomplishment that came from learning just how to pack it, and sip it, achieving that "just right" smoke..........

      I smoke a pipe because it's just so enjoyable, somewhat refined, definitely calming and relaxing, indisputably less harmful than cigarettes while also much better tasting. At the root of it all I have to say that I smoke it for the nicotine, but that's really just the base layer of it.

      There's the nicotine, the different Tobaccos, the pipes themselves, the community ( both local and online), the meditative act of sitting for a bit with a pipe, all of it makes for an experience that's so much more than just a habit. It's a hobby for sure.

    • Mr.Zhang on May 6, 2019
    • 因为抽烟斗可以让我安静且友善,这样的话就可以更好的思考

    • Tony Suvie on May 25, 2019
    • At 15yrs old our family took a trip to Disney World in Florida. I’m 63 now. Dad bought a pouch of a Disney pipe tobacco blend and a novelty cob. He was a pipe smoker himself. While driver us around Florida I was amusing myself with admiring his pouch and pipe. At one point he said go ahead fill it and try a smoke. I often watched him very carefully as he filled and lit is pipe, so I did the best I could to imitate him. A few days later was my 16th birthday, 12/23. O my birthday he came to my room along with mom and sai these Magic words, “boy if you’re gonna smoke you might as well smoke this”, and handed me a pkg of a Dr grabow pipe and two packs of Prince Albert, it’s been on from there. Thank you Dad! He’s 87 and still kickin today. Must be from chillin with his pipe.

    • DAVE SOMMER on May 6, 2022
    • As a pipe smoker since the mid 70's I can only say thatI want to thank my former girlfriend for telling me totry it you might like it. Well indeed I did, and on top of it all my favorite uncle was one also. We would share tobacco and light up after dinner and watch tv together. Later on I shared many a pipe with a co-worker and we nicknamed our smoking while workingtogether as our "blue fog" time of day. I as a matter of fact am enjoying a pipe full of Capt. Black original while I am writing this. LONG LIVE SMOKINGPIPES. COM\\\\

    • D. on May 7, 2022
    • Excellent article, Chuck! Thank you for the laughs. Now, pardon me, I am going on a mini-vacation, happy smokes🌴⛱️🥃🍷🍺

    • C. Taylor on May 8, 2022
    • I am a new pipe smoker (2 months now) and was influenced to smoke a pipe by my father; he would smoke Capt. Black original and gold. I also have colleagues who have also nurtured this new hobby. I has been a true pleasure whenever I smoke my pipe. I begin to mellow out with each puff I take. Thanks Chuck and Smokingpipes.com for such a wonderful article; it only reaffirms me that I made the right hobby choice of pipe smoking.

    • Astrocomical on May 8, 2022
    • Pipe smoking is certainly not like cigarettes (most convenient) or cigars (set some time aside) but somewhere in between and you can control the variables not available in the other two. Something I'm still working on and probably forever.

    • greg on May 9, 2022
    • Good Value

    • Joseph Kirkland on May 9, 2022
    • Chuck, another great article! Thank you. A Ciceronian digression: I bet you are a great editor. That’s a special talent.You are so on target. I have my Grandfather Crockett’s old pipe, a Wellington bent pipe, several of my Father’s pipes.I’m forwarding this article to a new friend who asked about pipe smoking. No better place to start.Kudos again!

    • Charlie Dutch on May 11, 2022
    • He was put into the smoking section of a plane, and it ended up crashing into the water, and because of how the plane sank, everyone in the no smoking section drowned but those in the smoking section stayed above water.I also met Paul Spaniola in person in his shop in Flint, MI. He smoked a pipe pretty much all day long every day for most of his life since he was 19. He lived to his goal of 100yo and died 35 years to the day after he lost his wife, as if he only died because it was part of his plan. It also seems strangely poetic to me personally that he died the day before my own birthday. I wonder if my strong love of pipes somehow cosmically connects me to Paul.Yeah, yeah--I know, "But statistics say..." Sure, statistics say it. But whether you live 60 years, or 106 years or just 6 years, it really pales in comparison to eternity. We all came from somewhere, and we're all going somewhere, and we spend our whole life trying not to think about it. But I think you're better off sitting under your porch listening to the rain gently tapping the roof while smoking a pipe and pondering just where that "somewhere" is that you're headed to, and where you fit into it all, than to worry about ekeing out another year, or month or day--who knows what it is--denying yourself the pleasure.That's the perspective of this old guy...

    • Charlie Dutch on May 11, 2022
    • He was put into the smoking section of a plane, and it ended up crashing into the water, and because of how the plane sank, everyone in the no smoking section drowned but those in the smoking section stayed above water.I also met Paul Spaniola in person in his shop in Flint, MI. He smoked a pipe pretty much all day long every day for most of his life since he was 19. He lived to his goal of 100yo and died 35 years to the day after he lost his wife, as if he only died because it was part of his plan. It also seems strangely poetic to me personally that he died the day before my own birthday. I wonder if my strong love of pipes somehow cosmically connects me to Paul.Yeah, yeah--I know, "But statistics say..." Sure, statistics say it. But whether you live 60 years, or 106 years or just 6 years, it really pales in comparison to eternity. We all came from somewhere, and we're all going somewhere, and we spend our whole life trying not to think about it. But I think you're better off sitting under your porch listening to the rain gently tapping the roof while smoking a pipe and pondering just where that "somewhere" is that you're headed to, and where you fit into it all, than to worry about ekeing out another year, or month or day--who knows what it is--denying yourself the pleasure.That's the perspective of this old guy...

    • Charlie Dutch on May 11, 2022
    • He was put into the smoking section of a plane, and it ended up crashing into the water, and because of how the plane sank, everyone in the no smoking section drowned but those in the smoking section stayed above water.I also met Paul Spaniola in person in his shop in Flint, MI. He smoked a pipe pretty much all day long every day for most of his life since he was 19. He lived to his goal of 100yo and died 35 years to the day after he lost his wife, as if he only died because it was part of his plan. It also seems strangely poetic to me personally that he died the day before my own birthday. I wonder if my strong love of pipes somehow cosmically connects me to Paul.Yeah, yeah--I know, "But statistics say..." Sure, statistics say it. But whether you live 60 years, or 106 years or just 6 years, it really pales in comparison to eternity. We all came from somewhere, and we're all going somewhere, and we spend our whole life trying not to think about it. But I think you're better off sitting under your porch listening to the rain gently tapping the roof while smoking a pipe and pondering just where that "somewhere" is that you're headed to, and where you fit into it all, than to worry about ekeing out another year, or month or day--who knows what it is--denying yourself the pleasure.That's the perspective of this old guy...

    • Charlie Dutch on May 11, 2022
    • He was put into the smoking section of a plane, and it ended up crashing into the water, and because of how the plane sank, everyone in the no smoking section drowned but those in the smoking section stayed above water.I also met Paul Spaniola in person in his shop in Flint, MI. He smoked a pipe pretty much all day long every day for most of his life since he was 19. He lived to his goal of 100yo and died 35 years to the day after he lost his wife, as if he only died because it was part of his plan. It also seems strangely poetic to me personally that he died the day before my own birthday. I wonder if my strong love of pipes somehow cosmically connects me to Paul.Yeah, yeah--I know, "But statistics say..." Sure, statistics say it. But whether you live 60 years, or 106 years or just 6 years, it really pales in comparison to eternity. We all came from somewhere, and we're all going somewhere, and we spend our whole life trying not to think about it. But I think you're better off sitting under your porch listening to the rain gently tapping the roof while smoking a pipe and pondering just where that "somewhere" is that you're headed to, and where you fit into it all, than to worry about ekeing out another year, or month or day--who knows what it is--denying yourself the pleasure.That's the perspective of this old guy...

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