My boyfriend has recently started smoking a pipe to relax in the evenings. I’m not a smoker myself and neither of us approve of cigarette use, but he says that pipe tobacco is less harmful in small doses and helps him calm down, so he wants to continue using it. I have my suspicions that it is a completely harmless indulgence, but he works hard and doesn’t have any other vices, so if he wants to enjoy this small thing, I don’t want to deprive him of it. I understand pipe smoking is an old tradition and the subculture seems to be popular again.
However, I’m understandably concerned about the potential long-term effects of his tobacco use. Can you help me end the debate once and for all? Is there a difference between pipe tobacco and cigarette tobacco, and if so, what is it?
First of all, you need a bit of history. The modern cigarette industry as we know it began in the 1800s in France, where the name “cigarette” originated and the thin, finely cut rolled tobacco products were invented. They became one of France’s most popular exports, quickly being sold all throughout Europe.
Until the 1960s, when medical professionals began to find links between tobacco use and serious illnesses such as lung cancer, cigarette smoking was seen as a glamorous pastime. Today, in most Western nations, cigarette use has declined in response to both health concerns and the addictive qualities of tobacco.
However, long before the Bohemian Revolution, people were already smoking rolled tobacco. In the ninth century, the Mayan people essentially ritualized the act of smoking tobacco, using the thin, paper-like exterior of corn as rolling paper before smoking as part of their ancient religious rituals.
Unlike cigarettes, pipes are generally not fitted with filters, although you can manually add one. Today, many people are against cigarette use but remain slightly more lenient when it comes to the pipe-smoking. But why have pipes remained in vogue while cigarettes have a slightly less favorable reputation?
Cigarettes are smaller and easier for most people to smoke; their elegant design made them beloved by rebellious flapper women of the 1920s, after all. However, the differences are far more than just aesthetic. The biggest difference between cigarette tobacco and pipe tobacco is the chemicals with which they are made. Cigarettes are generally overlaid with a highly toxic chemical tobacco, while pipe tobacco is more natural. These chemicals create the uplifting “high” that regular cigarette smokers enjoy.
Chemically enhanced cigarettes are cheaper, more easily accessible, and typically more flavorful. If you’ve tasted a menthol cigarette, you understand how strong the taste can be. On the other hand, pipe tobacco, being more natural, provides a softer and slightly more complex smoke, which many people enjoy. While the flavors are synthetic in nature, they taste natural. You can choose from various pleasing flavors, including whiskey, cognac, and wintergreen. Flavors are sprayed onto the tobacco leaves right before harvesting, and the taste remains fresh for a long time. The lack of harsh chemicals gives the pipe tobacco a better aroma, too. You are meant to take your time and enjoy the process.
Most cigarette tobacco is cultivated in Virginia, while pipe tobacco can be sourced from all over the world and is typically the product of several different tobaccos blended together. Belgium is a popular place for a specific modern style of tobacco. An increasing number of millennials are choosing to grow their own tobacco or simply buy pipe tobacco online from one of the many resources available.