Pipe smokers

Pipe smoking is the practice of tasting or inhaling the smoke produced by burning a substance, most commonly tobacco, in a pipe. It is the oldest traditional form of smoking.


A number of Native American cultures had pipe-smoking traditions, long before the arrival of Europeans. Tobacco was often smoked, generally for ceremonial purposes, though other mixtures of sacred herbs were also common. The narrow calumet (called "peace pipe" by Europeans), was smoked in ceremony to seal covenants and treaties. Tobacco was introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century and spread around the world rapidly. In Asia during the 19th century, opium (which previously had only been eaten) was added to tobacco and smoked in pipes. Madak (the mixture of opium and tobacco) turned out to be far more addictive than orally-ingested opium, leading to social problems in China which culminated in the Opium Wars.[

According to Alfred Dunhill, Africans have had a long tradition of smoking hemp in gourd pipes, asserting that by 1884 the King of the Baluka tribe of the Congo had established a "riamba" or hemp-smoking cult in place of fetish-worship. Enormous gourd pipes were used.

In the 20th century, pipe smoking has been adopted as a preferred method of inhaling a variety of psychoactive drugs, and some claim it is a more intense method of ingestion. Smokeable crack cocaine has a reputation for being more addictive than cocaine's insufflated form. Similarly, methamphetamine has gained popularity in a crystalline form which when smoked in a pipe lets the user avoid the painful nasal irritation of snorting. When not applied to a cigarette or joint, the liquid form of PCP is typically smoked in a pipe with tobacco or cannabis.[


Pipes have been fashioned from an assortment of materials including briar, clay, ceramic, corncob, glass, meerschaum, metal, gourd, stone, wood and various combinations thereof, most notably, the classic English calabash pipe.

The size of a pipe, particularly the bowl, depends largely on what is intended to be smoked in it. Large western-style tobacco pipes are used for strong-tasting, harsh tobaccos, the smoke from which is usually not inhaled. Smaller pipes such as the midwakh or kiseru are used to inhale milder tobaccos such as dokha and kizami or other substances such as cannabis and opium.

Famous pipe smokers

A number of real and fictional persons are strongly associated with their habit of pipe smoking.

•           Albert Einstein was known for smoking a pipe. He once said, "I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.

•           Earl Bertrand Russell lived to age 98 and remained active to the end.

•           Sherlock Holmes is explicitly described as a pipe smoker.

•           Another allegedly fictional character, St. Nicholas alias Santa Claus, is described thus (1839): "The stub of a pipe he held clenched in his teeth".

•           Joseph Stalin with a pipe was a common image: "Photos of him appeared daily in the Soviet press, now in genial pipe-smoking profile, now walking with his comrades..."

•           J. R. R. Tolkien loved pipe smoking; The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings have several detailed scenes of characters engaging in it, and even describe distinctive blends of manufactured pipe tobacco products.

•           Sandro Pertini (President of the Italian Republic 1978-85) lived to age 93.

Health effects

The overall health risks are only 10% higher in pipe smokers than in nonsmokers.[citation needed] However, pipe or cigar smokers, who are former-cigarette smokers, might retain a habit of smoke inhalation. In such cases, there is a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease and a nearly three times greater risk of developing COPD. In addition, there is a causal relationship between pipe smoking and mortality due to lung and other cancers, as well as periodontal problems, such as tooth and bone loss.