The Complicated World of Tobacco…

Tobacco seems to be very much at the top of our agenda at the moment – no bad thing I’m sure you’ll agree. How to select the right tobaccos to suit everyone continues to tax, although we are making progress and with even more customer input I’m sure we’ll get there in the end! But before that piece, last month I posted a comment pointing to an article discussing why pipe smoking is ‘different’ from other types of tobacco use. As with all things tobacco however, nothing is straightforward, and I have since become aware of just how reliant upon other tobacco users pipe smokers perhaps are – or certainly according to one person at least. Credit to glpease for this informative piece…

“From what I’ve read on various pipe smokers’ fora, there is some crossover between cigarettes and pipes or cigars and pipes, however, “We,” as pipe smokers, seem to be more than a bit jingoistic about the way we choose to enjoy tobacco. Pipe smoking is seen as superior by many, both smokers and non-smokers alike. I suspect this has much to do with the historical image of the pipeman as thoughtful, educated, considerate. We’re not all Albert Einstein or Fred MacMurray, but there is a strong iconographic link, forged over decades, that still persists to some extent today, even despite the popular influence of the rabid anti-tobacco movement.

Personally, though I thoroughly enjoy both pipes and cigars, I have never really been a cigarette smoker. Sure, I’ve had more than a few of the little things over the years in moments of weakness or curiosity, and some have been exquisite. I fondly recall the Balkan Sobranies in their little tin boxes, and the French Boyards, with their black tobacco and yellow corn-paper, sweet and powerful in flavour and in effect, not to mention the Old Holborn RYO tobacco that was splendid. I’m sorry to say these have gone the way of all flesh, even though I would only rarely indulge in their guilty pleasures.

Really, the only reason I’ve never adopted the custom of the cigarette is largely because I’ve simply never been one to embrace the notion of the quick and disposable smoke. I’ve always loved the pipe for its beauty, its steadfast companionship, and the attendant ritual that is a vital part of the pipe’s deeper pleasures. It provides so much more than just a smoke. The cigar, too, has its rites, and provides a good hour’s worth of enjoyment. Cigarettes simply are not my choice.

Still, I cannot help but find it a little disturbing that so many pipe smokers are vehement in their contempt towards cigarettes and those who smoke them. More disturbing, still, an informal poll of California pipe smokers during the early days of the Tobacco Wars in the USA, showed a startling support for anti-smoking legislations, simply because they do not like cigarettes.

It’s interesting how smokers have become so factionalized. ‘Twasn’t that long ago when cigarette smokers, cigar smokers and pipe smokers coexisted in relative harmony. Today, things could scarcely be more different. I wonder how much of this vociferous dissent within the ranks of tobacco users results from the pressures of the antis on one side, and the pipe smoker’s desire, on the other, to be held out as separate, lest we suffer a similar fate of vilification as has befallen the cursed and wretched cigarette smoker.

But the truth is that without the cigarette companies, pipe smokers would have a difficult time existing. The pipe tobacco industry today is indirectly, but very closely, tied to the cigarette industry. If not for Big Tobacco, our selection of leaf would be minimal, at best, and the price of what we could get would be astronomical. We, as pipe smokers, enjoy a quite inexpensive luxury by virtue of the economy of scale that the cigarette industry creates.

Further, we have access to a wider variety of leaf due to the number of growers willing to work the land to produce the tonnage that Big Tobacco requires. The sum total of pipe tobacco production in the world amounts to about what the cigarette industry sweeps off the floor after the lines are shut down. I’m not exaggerating; collectively, pipe smokers consume in a year what tobacco manufacturers produce in a few hours.

So, as much as many of us don’t care for cigarettes, they are really essential to our hobby. It’s a good thing that Big Tobacco hasn’t been shuttered by the relentless pressures from the antis, or we’d either be smoking pencil shavings and flavoured lawn clippings, or paying an inordinately high price for our pipeweed of choice.”

Perhaps not what we would wish to be the case, and only one person’s view on the current tobacco situation, but an interesting article nonetheless I hope you agree…

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4 Responses to The Complicated World of Tobacco…

  1. avatar Stephen says:

    I’d say that the smoking ban across many areas now has impacted the pipe smoker more than that of the cigarette anyway. It’s quite one thing to nip outside bar or office and get a quick hit from a cigarette, and completely another when wanting to take a half hour of contemplation with the pipe.

  2. avatar richard fox says:

    an interesting and well written piece

  3. avatar Peter says:

    very interesting and well put

  4. avatar frank says:

    Very well put

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