Tobacco Madness

Kevin Godbee
If you’re a pipe smoker …
and for the first time writing here, I don’t just mean a tobacco pipe smoker—whether you smoke tobacco or marijuana in your pipe, you may have noticed a change in social attitudes and acceptability of these two "weeds". If you’re a pot smoker, you may have noticed that the future looks bright as far as being able to enjoy your pastime with less hassles. If you’re an avid enthusiast of pipe tobacco, you’re much more likely to be considered weird at best, and at worst, a source of impending doom, a disgusting addict trying to bring down not only yourself, but all the innocent bystanders around you. Sometimes I exaggerate a bit to make a point… this isn’t one of those times.

While more U.S. states are making marijuana legal, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is spending $48-million of tax-payer’s money on an ad campaign with horrific images and messages as reported by The Wall Street Journal on March 28, 2013 in their article "Graphic New Antismoking Ads Launched". Even though we won a battle with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) by having their disgustingly graphic warning label requirements struck down on First Amendment grounds, the CDC figured out how to pick up the ball and run with it.

In doing a little research on ad campaigns that use disturbing graphic images in the U.S., aside from anti-smoking, there were a few P.S.A.s about drug use (none on marijuana). Only in the U.K. did we find a graphic advertising campaign for not texting and driving. Texting while driving is obviously quite dangerous, and has resulted in many instant deaths of not only the driver, but also of innocent bystanders. I don’t ever appreciate seeing grotesque images, but if we must have ad campaigns with unsettling graphic images wouldn’t it make more sense to show a wrecked automobile with a decapitated corpse as an anti-texting message rather than the highly disturbing imagery about smoking? Sorry. I know that’s completely gross, but I’m trying to make a point about how more and more things just don’t make any sense in today’s world. I imagine we don’t have sickening anti-texting campaigns because reasonable people realized that it’s simply too much. There’s just no reasoning with the anti-tobacco crowd though.

Back in the 1970s, tobacco pipe smoking was at its highest level in all of history, which would also correlate to it being quite socially acceptable. But then things began to change. Marijuana was gaining popularity at this time, while smoking tobacco in a pipe started to decline. An old film, "Reefer Madness" surfaced around this time as well. The movie became what is consider a cult hit and an unintentional comedy. It was originally produced in 1936 by a church group that was against marijuana use. It became an accidental farce because it was so over-the-top melodramatic in its depiction of the horrendous results of smoking pot and so far from the truth that it was just ridiculous. You can find clips as well as the complete movie on YouTube since it is now in the public domain. If you’re going to try to endure the entire movie, I recommend smoking your favorite weed along with it.

While the movie Reefer Madness is obviously silly, today’s social and political climate regarding tobacco doesn’t seem too far away from the ridiculously excessive theatrics of this propaganda film … the only difference being that most of the world is buying the disinformation. The brainwashing has worked, and seems to be irreversible.

Marijuana, on the other hand, has made great strides in social acceptability. In the April 2013 edition of Playboy, there is a feature article; "Pot & Circumstance—with marijuana legalization at an all-time high, we present our first ever gentlemen’s guide to ganja." Ironically, Hugh M. Hefner, Editor-in-Chief and founder of Playboy, one of the most iconic pipe smokers in modern times hasn’t smoked a tobacco pipe in over 20-years, according to his publicist.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center finds that for the first time in four decades, a majority of Americans favors the legalization of marijuana, with 52% supportive and 45% opposed. In addition, the survey found a decrease in those who view marijuana as a “gateway drug” and smoking it as morally wrong, and an increase in the those who feel marijuana has medical uses and that government efforts to enforce marijuana laws are not worth it.

You can view the full results of the survey here.

I asked fellow pipe smoker, and Ph. D in Sociology, Mike Garr if he could offer any input on the changing social acceptability of tobacco versus marijuana. He offered the following charts and commentary.


There has clearly been a sea change in how Americans have seen the dangers of tobacco and marijuana. Since 1973 The Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan has conducted Monitoring the Future, a survey of high school students across the nation. The data derived from this survey can provide evidence for the changes in attitudes toward tobacco and marijuana and the subsequent change in smoking behaviors.

Looking at high school seniors from 1991 to 2012, we track the changes in smoking marijuana/hashish and cigarettes and relate these changes to (1) disapproval of these two drugs and (2) the perceived harmfulness of the drugs. Tables 1 and 2 below show the results. Disapproval was based on those who disapproved or strongly disapproved of people smoking marijuana regularly and smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day. Harmfulness was based on those who said there was a “great risk” to regularly smoking marijuana or one or more packs of cigarettes. The survey did not ask specifically about pipe smoking or cigars, other than small cigars or hookah.

Table 1 examines the disapproval to using marijuana and cigarettes. We can see the increase in disapproval in cigarettes and the decrease in marijuana use. Almost as a mirror image cigarette use declines with increased disapproval and marijuana use increases with decreased disapproval. Note that starting in 2009 the use of marijuana is more prevalent than the use of cigarettes.(Click chart for a larger version.)

Table 2 looks at the perceived harmfulness of marijuana and cigarettes. What is most noticeable is the decline in perceived harmfulness of marijuana starting in 1991 and rapidly declining to 2013 for a 43.9% reduction. It is good to see that drug programs like DARE work so well in our high schools. Despite the decrease in perceived harmfulness, marijuana use continued to decline until the mid-2000s, after which use increases. Cigarette use continued to increase as perceived dangerousness increased in the early 1990s. But by the end of the 1990s cigarettes begin their precipitous decline of over 40% since 1998.(Click chart for a larger version.)


A significant aspect in the growing social acceptability of marijuana is the newly recognized medical value. Some common uses of medical marijuana are; preventing nausea and vomiting, and stimulating appetite in cancer patients, relaxing muscle tension, and help with insomnia.

Aside from the recently established medical uses, a whole bunch of other people just want to get high. I suspect some of them may resort to inventing some illnesses, while some ailments are certainly legit.

At the same time, what’s being completely ignored is that a marijuana smoker is inhaling smoke into their lungs, which is no doubt damaging. "…the amount of tar inhaled and the level of carbon monoxide absorbed by marijuana smokers is 3 to 5 times greater than among tobacco smokers."1
Keep in mind that in the preceding statement "tobacco smokers" means cigarette smokers that inhale, not pipe smokers that do not inhale.

The individual smoking cannabis also becomes impaired. Some of the effects include; "disorientation, altered time and space perception, lack of concentration, impaired learning and memory, drowsiness, and sedation."1

Not there’s there’s anything wrong with that as long as they are sitting on the couch at home shoving handfuls of Doritos, Tater-Tots and  Mallomars into their mouths, and not driving, operating machinery, or neglecting responsibilities.

Nobody seems too concerned about any of the negative effects of pot smoking, which is fine with me – live and let live … except that’s not the way it is concerning tobacco, and it’s even worse that connoisseur pipe tobacco gets lumped in with mass-market cigarettes.

Pipe smoking is known to help one relax, concentrate better, lower blood pressure (you might need to smoke a pipe while reading this article), and there are benefits to nicotine recently discovered … that you never see published in any mainstream media, because as I previously said – The brainwashing has worked, and seems to be irreversible.

Smoking cigarettes is bad for you. We get it. So are a lot of other things; like eating fast food, drinking too much alcohol, texting while driving, not wearing sunscreen, listening to very loud music, and so on.

The anti-tobacco fanatics ignore that the original Surgeon General’s Report in 1964 stated that-

a. “Pipe smokers who inhale live just as long as non-smokers. Pipe smokers who don’t inhale live longer than non-smokers. (Death rate 20% less than for non-smokers.)” – Publication No. 1103, page 92.

 – and – 

b. “Death rates for current pipe smokers are little if at all higher than for non-smokers even with men smoking 10 pipefuls per day, and with men who had smoked pipes for more than 30 years.” – Publication No. 1103, page 112.

This was from the report in 1964. That positive information has been removed, likely to be considered blasphemes by the anti-smoking zealots.

Contrast that with the 2010 Surgeon General’s Report"The Office of the Surgeon General just released a report claiming that a single puff of a cigarette or a single inhalation of secondhand smoke can permanently damage one’s health and perhaps lead to death." That’s from a great rebuttal, Surgeon General Jumps the Shark by Steve Milloy. Remember Reefer Madness? We now have Tobacco Madness.

Nicotine – 

Even though most pipe hobbyists are not in it for the nicotine, and smoke pipes more for the flavor, we should talk about it since it is present in pipe tobacco. Actually, nicotine is also present in some common foods.

Common Foods with Nicotine

1. Tomatoes
2. Potatoes
3. Eggplant
4. Cauliflower

People think that nicotine causes cancer. It doesn’t. The chemicals added to cigarettes are what some think can cause cancer. Nicotine actually has health benefits.

Scientific studies have been done that show that nicotine inhibits the development of Parkinson’s disease and has a preventative effect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Nicotine is also being studied as a possible treatment for schizophrenia.

The reason you don’t hear about this is because nicotine can’t be patented so drug companies can’t make any money from it. (You can read about this in Fred Hanna’s book, "The Perfect Smoke – Gourmet Pipe Smoking for Relaxation and Reflection.") I also suspect that you don’t hear about the positive uses for nicotine is because it’s been indoctrinated in society that it’s evil.

Here’s another one that’s so overused, it’s ridiculous – quoting gigantic numbers of deaths "caused by smoking".

"The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States"– CDC

What they don’t say, and completely ignore is that pinpointing the exact cause of an ailment is an inexact science because it is so difficult to rule out the role played by personal habits, toxins in the environment and many other factors.

By nature, I am highly optimistic. In this case, I am optimistic for my pot-smoking friends that they will soon be able to buy all kinds of great weed from professional retail marijuananists, and eventually, probably at convenient drive-throughs as well.

Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time trying to convince myself that things won’t keep getting worse for those of us with the gall to actually smoke tobacco in a pipe.


Kevin Godbee is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of Pipes Magazine. Kevin started smoking pipes and cigars in 1998 and started an online cigar magazine & community site in 2005. (The site was acquired in 2008 and no longer exists.) He launched in 2009, and in less than three years the site has become the largest trafficked pipe smoking related site, and the #1 Source for Pipes and Pipe Tobacco Information.

In the beginning of his career, Kevin worked in the hobby and specialty toy business for 16 years in sales, marketing, advertising and product development for three different manufacturers, and with his own company.

Over the last 10 years working in the online business, he has become an expert in Internet Marketing and SEO. Kevin is a Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT) through Tobacconist University, a member of Cigar Rights of America and is a "Media Member" of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. In his spare time he sings, plays guitar, cooks, and enjoys all the wonderful places to go and things to do in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, Florida where he lives in his penthouse bachelor pad. Kevin has been smoking pipes and cigars for 15 years.


Dr. Michael Garr, Ph. D. aka “Doc Garr” contributed to this article.

1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets


23 Responses

  • Very well put Kevin. I only wish this article could be more widely read. You’re preaching to the choir here, but I’d really like to see a popular magazine or newspaper republish this article. It merits reading among the non-pipe smoking public.

  • In this pharisaic and judgmentally inverted world, it’s comforting to know that there are outspoken advocates for reason and sensibility such as yourself, who are willing and able to use their resources to stand up to the hypocrisy.

  • Great article Kevin, thanks. I think we are in for a tough road between the government and insurance companies. I honestly don’t see it ever getting better for us, only worse.

  • This is a really informative article. Too bad you are preaching to the choir. This is the sort of thing that needs to be in the mainstream.

  • Well written! This may sound as a stereotype, but here in The Netherlands it is easier for me to get some pot then a nice latakia mixture..

  • Thanks for your comments guys. I’ll work on getting some more distribution.

  • It is interesting how pot smoking has changed in perception over time. I can remember, as a child, being deathly afraid of drugs and the deviants in society that dealt them. Marihuana was seen as a gateway drug and before long one would go from smoking a joint to freebasing cocaine in an alarmingly short time. In my teens the shift had begun towards pot as a laid back thing to do while at a party or listening to music. Now, it seems as if you are cool and highly enlightened if you smoke pot. Of course this is my perception as a child raised in the South in a Southern Baptist family. Naivety is bliss it seems. My adult views are live and let live but sadly this is not the predominant view of the status quo. Great article Kevin! Perhaps you should send it on to your NPR friends. 😉

  • Great read Kevin. I can only hope this country can start moving back towards freedom for all people not just those that are doing the popular thing.

  • Like many others I recently read the excellent New York Times article on Semois tobacco (which I am dying to try btw!) I have not kept up with the anti tobacco movement, but if anyone would like an introduction, just peruse some of the reader comments in response to the article.
    Not all of the comments were anti tobacco, but there was much evidence of the brainwashing spoken of above. I was pleased to see our own Kevin Godbee’s smiling avatar amongst the other comments with a more sober position and I’m especially happy to read this.
    Politics play a role in all “scientific” studies. At the time of the 1964 Surgeon General’s favorable take on pipe tobacco use, I’m sure there was some pro tobacco influence on the results, just as the 2010 studies were obviously colored by anti tobacco sentiments. Common sense is certainly the best policy in our personal smoking habits, a policy notoriously absent from politics (and often science.)

  • Very well put, Kevin. I would like to see this informative article in some major newspapers, if only they had the guts to print it.

  • Second-hand pot smoke was obviously not a worry here- but I wonder what might’ve happened to anyone at this event if he/she had tried to smoke a cigarette? You might guess though that after the shooting some cig smoker probably did fire one up out of a sense of relief- and got away with it.
    On a related issue, alcohol still enjoys its sacred status no matter how out-of-hand drinkers get-
    Guess that’s just so much collateral damage sustained along the way on the path to adulthood and not worth worrying a nation over regarding health problems that could stick around for decades. Nothing to see here folks- just keep moving.

  • Hi Kevin,
    Thought your readers should know that the California senate is raising tobacco taxes…again on everything (Senate Bill 768). There is a campaign to stop it or revise the text. Here is the general text of a letter I wrote to my senate and assembly member:
    May 10, 2013
    Dear [recipient name was inserted here],
    I am writing to you today as a California resident and voter to urge you to vote no on California Senate Bill 768; which proposes a general tobacco tax increase. This bill should be rewritten to only pertain to cigarettes/snuff/chewing tobacco, not pipe tobacco or cigars.
    As a premium pipe tobacco consumer and enthusiast, S. 768 will directly affect my freedom of choice to consume premium pipe tobaccos as a hobbyist. I agree that cigarettes/snuff/chewing tobacco should be taxed as they have a significant measurable direct affect on human health, however pipe tobacco (and the handcrafted briar pipes, an artform) is in a hobbyist category. The consumption of pipe tobacco and cigars is being punished in a broad brush stroke of policy that really should be targeted to cigarettes/snuff/chewing tobacco. Cigarettes, as an example, are only manufactured for their ability for a user to consume nicotine through inhalation and therefore become addicted. Pipe tobacco and cigars are not, and never have been (in addition pipe tobacco is never used for roll your own cigarettes as the processing is different, with little nicotine for the RYO cigarette consumer). Cigarettes, snuff and chewing tobacco have always been the problem as their design is as a drug. Please understand the difference and why this bill punishes a hobbyist group.
    S. 768 is also bad for the economy and small businesses alike. Private business owners, and not governments, should continue to be allowed to make the final decisions on how they run their businesses. Furthermore, ill-conceived tax increases that are discriminatory affect economic markets, which result in dramatic drops in tax-revenues and job loss. In a free-market society, government needs to support small businesses by fostering a prosperous economic environment not raising the taxes on the products they sell.
    If we continue down the road of a highly regulated, unjustly taxed society, then we as citizens will continue to see the erosion of our rights and liberties that were the moral principles and beliefs that of our founding fathers set forth with the founding of our nation.
    I respectfully ask that you vote no on S. 768.
    If you are a member of and live in California please spread the word and submit a letter here:

  • Great article Kevin.
    I would put in my two cents as an aside – if I am walking around in public smoking a cigarette, I get the EVIL EYE from the Anti-Smoking Crowd and Anti-Smoking Nazis, but if I am walking around puffing on a pipe in public those same people act completely differently. Instead of being told how “evil” smoking is, they’re quick to comment on how much they like the smell of the pipe tobacco!
    People are odd, that’s for sure.

  • Yeah, I get that sometimes too Rondy. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and thanks for pimping it on FB.

  • Very nice article Kevin i msg it to a few friends on FB im sure they will enjoy it along with some of the students i sent it too as well.
    Carl S.