Put that in Your Pipe

Pipes are for Everyone

If I asked you to close your eyes and conjure up in your mind an image of a person smoking a pipe it’s almost a foregone conclusion that image you would have in your mind would be of a man smoking a pipe. And it’s almost as much a foregone conclusion that the man smoking the pipe would be someone who was perhaps the wrong side of 60 rather than someone much younger.

That’s the stereotype we have of pipe smokers these days. They’re men, they’re old and they’re probably out there smoking their pipes on a park bench or rocking chair on their front porch. It’s extremely unlikely that your mental image would be of a younger male and even less unlikely that your mental image would be of a female smoking a pipe.

Don’t feel bad if your mental image didn’t conform to what society expects a pipe smoker to be because it’s been drilled into us for some years now that pipe smokers are male and probably quite advanced in years.

That’s not quite the reality today. Earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal published an article reporting that one the latest trends on college campuses is pipe smoking. In my travels to different pipe shows and in talking to different pipe makers, factories and tobacco producers this year, everyone confirms that pipe smoking is seeing a resurgence.

Our beloved hobby is in a growth stage that is broad-based. (No pun intended.) I for one, am quite happy to see young men and women discovering the pleasures of pipe smoking. Without them, this hobby will die. Then where are we going to get our pipes and tobaccos when it’s no longer economically feasible to produce such products for a market that is too small?

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It’s an interesting correlation that we currently have more pipes and tobaccos to choose from then we have had in over a decade. (More on that in future article in this column).

Pipes are for women of all ages
There is no immutable law of the universe that declares that women can’t smoke a pipe and there’s certainly no law that says only older women or less glamorous women can smoke pipes. In fact there are women out there today who are breaking that stereotype and more women are joining them every single day.

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Women such as Victoria Beckham, Lisa Bonet, Kirsten Dunst, Sophie Hawkins, Janet Jones and Andie MacDowell have all been photographed smoking a pipe and you can find many more if you do a search on Google for ‘female celebrity smoking list’. At least one glamorous pipe smoker has been featured on the front cover of Playboy too. So the stereotype of pipe smoking not being an acceptable pastime for women is about as wrong as tongue-bite.

Victoria Beckham Kirsten Dunst
Lisa Bonet Janet Jones-Gretzky
Andie MacDowell Sophie B. Hawkins

And while I’ve just listed a number of glamorous or famous women who smoke a pipe it’s not something that’s restricted to rich and famous women. These days everyone from college students to housewives and professional women all enjoy the pleasures that we men enjoy when we smoke a pipe.

Pipes are for younger guys
Remember that mental image you had of a crusty old guy sitting on the park bench or a rocking chair on his front porch smoking his pipe? Well pipe smoking is for younger guys too. In fact the whole idea that pipe smoking is for older guys is quite a recent invention.

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All you have to do to disprove the "old-guy" image is to go back to images of the type of advertising that was in use from the 1950s and 1960s and you will see plenty of examples of younger guys and their pipes. In fact if you were to believe the marketing in those days Mr. Average American had a pretty wife, 2 perfectly balanced children aged 9 and 10, lived in the suburbs and smoked a pipe. These retro ads from the late ’40’s and ’50’s depicted male pipe smokers as young, hip, single guys, and this is true again today!  (Prince Albert Pipe Tobacco Ad from 1947) (Sir Walter Raleigh Pipe Tobacco Ad from 1959 )

Somewhere along the way the idea that pipe smoking was only something older guys enjoyed has developed and now we’re stuck with that stereotype too. And it is just a stereotype … there is no good reason why only older men should smoke a pipe.

The taste and all the other good things that go with pipe smoking are just as relevant for younger guys as they are for older guys and in many ways the stress relief that can be yours when you smoke a pipe is more important for younger guys who are trying to succeed in today’s fast-paced world.

Pipes are for couples
Now there’s a radical thought but it’s certainly one that is gaining a lot of traction. If smoking a pipe is a great way for guys or girls to unwind and reflect on life then wouldn’t it be so much better if couples were able to share such a pleasant pastime together?

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If couples shared the pleasure of pipe smoking there would no longer be any need for the male pipe smoker to be banished to the cellar … or his den … or somewhere out in the garden. Instead he could remain as part of the family and enjoy his favorite pipe and the company of his partner in life as well.

So let’s dispense with the outdated idea that pipe smoking is something that’s only suitable for old guys who are waiting out their last days on the planet. Let’s toss out those stereotypes that have built up over the years that pipe smoking is not something a woman would ever engage in.

Let’s face the fact that pipe smoking is for everyone who wants to enjoy the finer things in life and have something they can sit back and enjoy at any time of the day.

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