How to Quit Cigarettes – Smoke a Pipe!

The anti-smoking crowd loves to say there is no safe alternative to cigarettes … but are there better choices? Yes, there are. One of the best alternatives to cigarettes is pipe smoking. Why do I say this? Well, first of all, as you’ve probably guessed, I am a pipe smoker. I get great enjoyment from smoking my pipe. At the same time, I have heard from many former cigarette smokers that have taken up pipe smoking. Everyone of them is glad they did, and for several reasons. It’s cheaper (on a per smoke basis), healthier, and more relaxing.

There are such a wide variety of different types of pipes and tobaccos that it turns into an enjoyable hobby with frequent new experiences. There is also a camaraderie enjoyed between pipe smokers that does not exist with cigarette smokers.

If you’re going to consider trying a pipe, you’ll need to know the similarities and differences between smoking pipes and cigarettes. First, the similarities, since there aren’t many. One, you are still smoking tobacco, and two, you still have some nicotine intake. A third possibility is if your smoking habit goes along with an oral fixation, then pipes will help cover that for you too. That’s it.

For the differences, let’s start with the quality of the tobacco. If we compared them to food, cigarettes would be dog food and pipe tobacco would be a filet mignon, (or a sushi-grade tuna steak for you vegetarians). Generally speaking, most mass-produced cigarettes use the lowest quality tobacco, and have lots of nasty chemicals added to them. I’m not going to get into all the bad ingredients and tell you how bad cigarette smoking is. We already have way too many people doing that.

I think the entire anti-smoking crusade is one of the foulest, misguided trampling of our rights by the biggest control freaks using flat out lies and manipulation in the worst way that has gone much too far. Smoking is bad for you and so are 1,000 other things, blah, blah, blah. If you enjoy cigarettes and don’t want to quit, then don’t. Do what makes you happy and live your life. But if you’re the least bit curious as to what the most pleasurable tobacco enjoyment is, then please read on. This article isn’t to tell you to quit smoking cigarettes. Some pipe smokers smoke both pipes and cigarettes. However, if you have a loving spouse or some other person in your life nagging you to quit, or you just want to quit, but it is difficult, or want to try something new … then let’s learn more about pipe smoking.

There are some more differences to be aware of.

– Cigarettes are inhaled into the lungs. You do not do this with pipe tobacco. You pull it into your mouth only, and then blow it out. You can exhale through your nose which sometimes enhances the flavor with some pipe tobacco blends.

– Speaking of flavor, taste is a huge difference too. This goes back to the dog food vs. steak comparison. Pipe tobacco actually tastes good. I’ve never heard anyone tell me that cigarettes taste good.

– Cigarettes are really about getting the nicotine fix. I’m not criticizing, but we should be honest.

– Many pipe tobaccos smell wonderful to passers-by. Has anyone ever complimented you on the smell of your cigarette? Never mind, it’s a rhetorical question.

It is actually a pretty common occurrence that a pipe smoker will be complimented on what his pipe smoke smells like. (This is not always the case, but it is never the case with cigarettes.)

Getting back to the nicotine –  generally speaking, most pipe tobaccos have less nicotine, and less is absorbed into your system because you are not inhaling it into your lungs. Cigarettes are designed to give you a large, quick dose of nicotine. Pipe smoking is not. However, everyone that smokes a pipe says it relaxes them. You shouldn’t really look for pipe smoking to deliver a lot of nicotine, but there are a few exceptions. A few pipe tobaccos are heavily loaded with nicotine.

Pipe smoking is not all about the nicotine. It’s about relaxing and enjoyment. Pipe smoking is about taking time for yourself, to unwind while enjoying the different sensory delights of taste and smell. Some of the other senses get some enjoyment too. You touch the tobacco when loading your pipe, which is a neat little ritual in itself. Many pipe tobaccos look quite interesting as well. There are so many different types of tobaccos and processes used that make for many different appearances. As for the ears, you may hear a little crackling when you light the pipe, but hopefully you won’t hear any gurgling.

Are you ready to try smoking a pipe? Let’s do it!

I don’t want to overwhelm you with all the options and a bunch of instructions. I just want to make it easy for you to start, then you can come back here and post in our pipe forums and get tons of advice. (Everyone is friendly and helpful and there are no dumb questions.)

Finding a pipe and some tobacco

    Going to a physical store

If there’s a real tobacconist that sells pipes near you, that is your best bet. It’s great to walk into a store and be able to hold a pipe in your hand and talk to a specialist before buying it. Check out the Pipe Store Locator. If you’re lucky enough to find a pipe & tobacco specialty retailer, ask them if they have a few different blends you can buy small samples of to see what you like. Some will even give you a bowlful to try.

If there’s not a real tobacconist nearby, you can consider going to CVS, Walmart or somewhere similar and getting a Corn Cob Pipe or a Dr. Grabow Pipe. These are easy to get, and the lowest cost pipes you can find, and they will smoke just fine for a beginner. (Anyone that says different is entitled to their opinion, but you know what they say about opinions.) While you’re at CVS or Walmart, grab some Captain Black pipe tobacco. You’ll need a soft-flame lighter, and a tamper and pipe cleaners too. The tampers and pipe cleaners may be missing from the chain stores. You need a tamper to occasionally push the tobacco down to tighten it up a bit while smoking. You can try using the handle of a small screwdriver or some other round, flat object if you have to.

    Ordering Online

Here’s a great no-brainer way to quickly and easily start enjoying smoking apipe – 

We have coordinated with 4 different online retail tobacconists that have put together special Beginner Pipe Smoker Starter Sets.

These are all extremely good deals that are available for a limited time only. Experience the pleasure of pipe smoking now!

Cup O Joes

More Pipes and Tobaccos Articles

26 Responses

  • Good article, Kevin. I’m always for recruiting new pipe smokers, be they cigarette smokers or newbies. My “famous American pipe smokers” montage for my still-born “National Pipe Smokers Day” idea is still good, no?
    CLICK (or coup/paste) link:
    Corncob pipes are also appreciated by many veteran smokers, not just beginners.
    Also, a wooden golf tee makes a good, cheap tamper.
    Take care.

  • Myself, I was lucky enough to have not one but two local tobacconists, both of which had people on staff who were happy to help a newbie. Admittedly, the tobacco that they sent me home with is no longer in my rotation, but it didn’t scare me away, either.
    Nice article. I like the look of those starter packs from the e-tailers.

  • I love tobacco. There, I said it. Smoking a pipe is one of the great pleasures in my life.
    It should also be mentioned that snuff is another great alternative to smoking if what one is after is just a hit of vitamin N. Indeed, there is no known incidence of cancer caused by nasal snuff in the past 300 years (according to articles I read), and it’s a delightful hobby in its own right. I’ve been very much enjoying the line of Fribourg & Treyer snuffs, which are exceptional.

  • “I think the entire anti-smoking crusade is one of the foulest, misguided trampling of our rights by the biggest control freaks using flat out lies and manipulation in the worst way that has gone much too far.”
    Kevin, you’re sooo equivocal !
    It looks like the vendors have bent over backwards to provide kits that transition newbies and cigarette smokers into our world. Great idea. I wish something like that was available when I started.

  • Wow, when I started smoking a pipe there was no internet! I had my father who influenced my pipe smoking career. Nice article for getting started!

  • Great infomercial for those who wish to learn alternatives. Nice to see the support of your sponsors. Now to hit the conversion trail like a “witness”.

  • good article on stoping cigs and changing to a pipe; the info is very informative and useful.
    I disagree on one item and that is starting with some Captain Black. This is not good tobacco and for a beginner pipe smoker or one changing from cigs, it is most important to select a quality tobac. That insures a pleasant smoke and eliminates the fire in the mouth that often discourages a beginner. I would suggest a light to medium English blend, especially from a local tobacconist who can discuss the different blends and give samples.

  • As an on-again, off-again cigarette smoker; I am glad to say that I am set aside coughin’ nails forever.
    For those skeptics that don’t believe it… Smoking a pipe is a hobby, and one with all the intricacies of building ships in bottles, or it’s as easy as whistling.
    I whole heartedly recommend that those who are tired of cigarettes, pick up a pipe and enter a whole new fraternity and world of leisure contemplation, and pleasure. You’ll be glad you did.
    Great article Kevin!

  • A great article Kevin. The starter kits look awesome and it is most excellent that the 4 internet stores put together these fine looking kits. I do hope that they attract the cig smoker and the new pipe smoker alike.

  • Go Kevin, Glad you included a female example of the briarhood. Let your curiosity get the better of you, ladies! Take it from me, Pipes are elegant, delicious, calorie free, and delightful.

  • since i quit smoking butts and took up my pipes (10 years ago) i never, ever cough at night when going to bed like i heard my father do, i sometimes would smoke 2-3 packs a day, nasty!!

  • Excellent..
    I converted many months ago and I feel waaaaaaaayyyy better !!
    My fingers, lungs, clothing, and hair, ALL thank me !!
    Pipes and pipe tobacco are in !!

  • No need to “quit” cigarettes. Learn to control them – take a month to finish a pack. Take up a pipe; you’ll find it far more soothing than a cig. Why does smoking have to be addictive? Behaviorally addictive – maybe, chemically addictive- NOT! Much junk science has been purported around “nicotine addiction”. I’ll never buy the science –

  • Good article.
    Two years ago the anti-smoking group here in Hawaii were able to past a no smoking ban in public parks and beaches. One of their arguments were based on the large number of cig butts found. They had school age children collect butts in glass jars and present them at the hearings. I feel cigarette smokers have the right to smoke, but it is good to show them an alternative.

  • mauikava,
    I remember hearing about that. It seems to me the problem with cigarette butts on the beaches is the FILTERS. All other parts of the cigarette as well as cigars and pipe tobacco ashes ARE BIO-DEGRADABLE, will soon be “gone” and shouldn’t be any more bother than dead fish and other things that that one finds on beaches.

  • I started smoking pipes over 40 years ago while in college, unfortunately I quit my pipes and switched to cigarettes for convenience. I finally was able to quit the cigarettes a few years ago. I have just started back on my pipes this last year, the experience is totally different from cigarettes, no craving for nicotine and the relaxing time i experience while smoking a pipe is well appreciated. I wish I had some of this information years ago.

  • Terrific article, which I hope will draw some positive attention and alert its intended readers to the advantages and pleasures of the briar. I second the suggestion to recommend a “starter” blend other than Captain Black. I think a lot of us start out with CB and similar mass-market pipe tobaccos, which often deter newcomers to the hobby from sticking with it. Another demographic that the article might appeal to would be those who have dabbled with tobacco and who might be weighing the decision to take on a habit (i.e., cigarettes). A lot of younger guys I’ve spoken to about pipe smoking have told me that they’re drawn to tobacco (or at least want to give it a try), but their exposure to tobacco is confined primarily to cigarette smoking, the hazards of which they know only too well. For a lot of these prospective pipe smokers, enjoying tobacco is an all-or-nothing proposition (don’t smoke at all or develop a nicotine addiction). It comes as a pleasant surprise to these “considerants” that it’s quite possible to enjoy pipes (and cigars) as they’re intended to be enjoyed without developing a chemical dependency.

  • I think your article is great, and my own recent experience would seem to bear out much of what you have written in it. I started smoking cigarettes nearly 15 years ago. For approximately the latter half of that time, the cigarettes I have smoked have been hand-rolled, which (assuming the use of filters) are not as unhealthy as pre-rolled cigarettes. I was on about ten per day, and thanks to my new found hobby of pipe smoking, I have in the last couple of months cut down to only four or five per day… and it’s getting easier to cut down further with fairly strong pipe tobaccos such as Peterson’s Irish Oak.

  • First post and first article read on this excellent web resource by myself, Gregory Lee from London, England. Have smoked a pipe for around four months now, never looked back and now have the comforting activity of visiting London’s various tobacconist, some of which have traded for more the 100 years. Pipe smoking has tempered the previously aggressive fixation I had with tobacco through cigarettes and I can honestly say, there is nothing quite like relaxing for 1/2 and hour or so with a flavoursome Cavendish whilst listening to BBC Radio 4 on my balcony. On a separate issue, rest in peace Don Van Vielt, AKA Captain Beefheart. Friend, poet, painter, visionary, global music ambassador…genius. Bless you Don and best wishes to Jan Van Vielt

  • I recently gave up cigarettes with help from the pipe. For me it was sudden. I started the pipe only three months ago but haven’t had any cigs for two months and don’t miss them at all. I’ve smoked cigarettes for years and thought I would never be able to quit them.
    I do have a preference for high nicotine content in pipe tobacco but I suspect that will change with time. I no longer caught my lungs out every morning, haven’t had my morning hack since shortly after I decided that the pipe would be my only method for absorbing nicotine.
    I have never really enjoyed cigarettes, I was just addicted. Suddenly I’ve discovered the joy of real tobacco. My local tobacconist has cured me of interest in drug store tobacco except as an emergency resort.
    Part of the cig habit is oral and the fiddling with it. The pipe is Much better for those parts and I genuinely relax when sitting with my Peterson and a bowl of good English blend. Had my first bit of Virginia flake recently and take great joy from that as well.
    I love my pipe and the many tobaccos available. I never actually enjoyed cigarettes and do not miss them at all.