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Why I Smoke a Pipe

I am a Russian Orthodox Christian, freelance writer and photographer from West Virginia. I have a B.A. in Philosophy and Fine Art from ETSU.

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Relax and Live Longer

I know it isn’t very common for women to smoke tobacco in pipes, and I think in my case people are really puzzled when they see a short lady in a skirt and t-shirt sitting on the curb smoking a pipe while her 6' 5" husband sits next to her eating ice cream. One of my great grandmothers was also a pipe smoker, and I often think about her when I smoke. I have been fascinated by tobacco pipes from a young age and I bought my first pipe at a powwow when I was 18 years old. It was a small soapstone pipe with a long wooden stem. Not long before that I had inherited a “peace pipe” from my paternal grandfather when I was 16, but I didn’t use it till much latter. Incidentally, long-stem “peace pipe” style pipes provide the absolute best smoking experience you can have, in my opinion. Unfortunately, they aren’t intended or convenient to be carried around.

A breezy fall evening, sitting in my favorite rocking chair on my house-length porch with my favorite tobacco blend in one of my best smoking pipes is my idea of the perfect way to relax after a hard day. I’m asked about it from time to time if I am smoking in public. Most people want to know if it is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. Actually, the average pipe smoker lives about 3 years longer than people who don’t smoke anything at all. Statisticians have no idea why this is, but I think it has to do with the relaxation aspect of pipe smoking. Stress does kill, and we have a great stress buster! Also, since we don’t inhale the smoke, the risk of developing lung cancer is low (I think its about .5–1% chance). There is always a health risk with tobacco use, but in the case of pipe smoking I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

One thing I find very interesting is that people don’t develop addictions to nicotine by pipe smoking. When I smoke one average bowl of tobacco, I am getting the same level of nicotine through my gums as a cigarette smoker does by smoking an entire pack of cigarettes (hence the amazing relaxation effect). If nicotine is really as addictive as claimed, why don’t pipe smokers get addicted? I think most pipe enthusiasts are like me and only smoke occasionally when they can take the time to really savor the experience and relax. I have gone months without a smoke, but generally in the spring, summer and fall I smoke about 1–2 times a week. Trust me, I am not addicted to nicotine and I have never heard of a pipe smoker getting addicted. I think there is something else in cigarettes that causes addiction. I’m sure the surgeon general would disagree with me, but I think there is more to cigarette addiction than what we have been told.

The feeling you get from smoking a pipe is similar to a buzz from alcohol, except you don’t slur your speech, tell bad jokes or cry while laughing. It just makes you feel really good, stress-free and peaceful. I love the smell of the tobacco, and I enjoy the beauty of a finely crafted pipe. I have a small collection of favorites including a lovely meerschaum pipe my husband let me get when we got our stimulus check. I have some nice briar pipes as well, mostly Italian brands like Savinelli and Cabrini, but I also have a vintage Dr. Grabow filtered pipe made in the USA. I used to have a fairly large collection of vintage pipes, but I sold most of them some years back. They were my least favorite, and I wanted to reduce my collection to only include pipes I really enjoyed.

So, there is is in a nutshell. Pipe smoking and hand knitting are my two most effective relaxation-producing activities. You can get a decent intro pipe for around $25 new, or check on eBay for a nicer used pipe in good shape for about the same. If you are curious, give it a try! You might find you enjoy it as much as I do.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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