It is safe to say that there a number of stereotypes that are connected to people who smoke a pipe. It’s either the guy with the big, horn rimmed glasses and the tweed jacket, or the guy with his nose upturned at the country club, or your Dad or Grandfather who had a pipe hanging out of their mouths when they were cutting the grass and sitting on the dock with a fishing pole in hand. While it’s true that pipes are still being enjoyed by college professors and professional and amateur anglers alike, most people don’t imagine that the 20 something, tech savvy, Iphone wielding college bound crowd are lighting up a briar, but apparently, there’s a new generation of pipe smokers on the rise.
At the age of 18, I picked up my first little Dr. Grabow pipe and a pouch of Borkum Riff Whiskey tobacco at the local drugstore. What prompted this purchase? As an eager and vainglorious young lad, the answer came to me when I saw the (then to me) elegant shape of the pipe and the cool little bend in the stem and the beautiful grain in the wood: I knew that if it was hanging out of my mouth, I would instantly become cool. Hey, it works for the guys in the movies, right? Little did I realize how uncool it would be when I got it home, crammed the tobacco in as firmly as I could, and torched the tobacco and the rim of my pipe. After I had an asthma attack from trying to draw on my overfilled pipe and my tongue felt like someone had used it to sharpen a straight razor, it was evident to me that I looked pretty far from cool as I gasped for air and I couldn’t taste anything. Needless to say, it was unpleasant, at best, and I can already hear the hearty laughs of the seasoned smokers or the wincing groans of the smokers who remembered doing this for the first time as they read this.
I was a wreck, but thankfully, I had an invaluable tool to help me learn: the internet. With some studious reading and a little patience, my smokes greatly improved.
A recent article states that more and more college students are picking up a briar pipe, and I’m sure that many, like me, consulted the internet to get the hang of the basics, as there are several good resources out there about pipe smoking and pipe care. So why are younger kids taking up pipe smoking? Could it be that they are vainglorious lads, like myself, seeking an air of cool that they believe a pipe can achieve? Are they being taught by their relatives who have been smoking pipes for decades? Are they looking for a more economical and enjoyable way to enjoy a good tobacco, alternative to, lets say, cigarettes? Whatever the case may be, I believe that the 20 something crowd embracing the pipe is one of the best things happening in the industry right now. The new blood and the fresh perspective and the willingness to learn about different tobaccos, pipes, pipe shapes, and smoking techniques can only drive the industry upward, which is, I believe, where it has been going for quite a while now, despite the crazy schemes and scare tactics of the “Antis”. One look at the forums right here on this fine site shows the number of newer, younger smokers joining us each day, without any signs of slowing down.
I think that there is a simple reason that pipe smoking is not represented in pop culture and the media as much as it has been in the past: the general public sees pipe smoking as ancient, phased out, something that went away with disco and flower power. But I honestly think that if the younger crowd sticks with it, if the 20 something crowd is still smoking a pipe into their 30s and 40s and beyond, it will send a message to the general public that pipe smoking is alive and well, and it’s not just in the hands of the Dads and the Granddads anymore. With the number of tobacco blends and the number of people making pipes and the options that are available to us via the internet, the young and the seasoned smokers both have the world at their fingertips, limited only by their imagination and their credit limit. I know that some of the more seasoned smokers out there view us 20 something smokers with certain skepticism, thinking that we won’t have the patience or the perseverance to keep smoking, but I don’t think the younger crowd is going anywhere any time soon, or at least I hope they aren’t. If pipe smoking continues to grow and expand as it has since I have been smoking a pipe, then the sky is the limit, both for the industry and for the smokers themselves.