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So, You Want to Start Smoking?

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Smoking is a cultural thing, and linked tightly with our history. The Founding Fathers smoked their pipes while signing the Declaration of Independence. Sir Walter Raleigh, one of the first colonizers of America, grew and smoked his own tobacco. Even James Bond was often seen with a pipe. No matter what you think of smokers, you must understand that smoking is a root of our culture, and our species, and that it will always be around.

So, you have decided that it is time to start smoking a pipe or cigar. Maybe you have long looked at those of us who do, and thought it would be fun to try. Maybe you are just looking for something to relax you at the end of the night. Maybe you are trying to bring back fond memories of your family. No matter what your reason, now that you are interested in smoking, you need to make sure that it is the right thing for you.

Throughout human existence, people have smoked pipes.

Why are you Smoking?

Whether your interest in smoking pipes or cigars comes from one of the reasons I mentioned above, or something else, you need to be sure that you are smoking for the right reason. Smoking to look cool is never a good reason, and it shouldn’t be yours. Smoking simply because your friends do is also not a good reason. You should smoke because you like the smell or taste, because it relaxes you, or simply because you want to. Do not smoke — or do anything really — simply because it makes you look cool, or like a bad-ass.

Prepare Yourself

If you have ever smoked cigarettes, marijuana, or other substances, you probably think you know what to expect, but you will be surprised. Cigars and pipes are extremely hard to light, and they are harder still to keep lit. Additionally, you do not inhale; instead, you simply draw in the smoke, savor it, and then release it. You should also know that while the tobacco is much cheaper than cigarettes, pipes are extremely expensive, and they do need replacing. This is different from almost anything else you have tried before, so be ready.

Smoking is extremely hard to learn and master, but easy to do badly. If you want to start smoking, even if you have smoked before, you will need to be ready to face the trials. Picking out a pipe and tobacco might seem difficult, but they are probably the easiest things to do. Lighting, cleaning, maintenance, and even the timing of the puffs are essential to keeping your pipes and cigars smoking smoothly. You need to be prepared for a long and time-consuming journey before you truly are a pipe smoker.

The Risks

While preparing yourself to smoke, you should also prepare yourself for the risks you face. Aside from bad breath (note: always brush your teeth soon afterwords), you risk social stigma and not being allowed in certain businesses. Additionally, there are many medical conditions you should be aware of. Though they are nowhere near as harmful as cigarettes, both pipe and cigar smoke are carcinogens. You can get oral, lip, and tongue cancers from smoking. You can also get heart disease, high blood pressure, and other circulatory or vascular problems.

Tobacco of any sort is addictive, though pipes and cigars are less so than cigarettes. Keep in mind, however, that as pipe and cigar smokers are less likely to chain-smoke, and do not inhale the smoke, their health risks are less than with cigarettes. As a precaution, you should never smoke when you have sores or cuts in your mouth, nor when you are drinking heavily.

Sleep On It

So, now that you know the risks, and have prepared yourself for the trials of pipe smoking, you are ready—right? Frankly, though you might seem ready, you should take some time to think on it. You should never plunge into something right away; everything should be approached slowly. If you have friends who smoke, ask to take a few hits of theirs, to make sure you are still interested. You should check out guides online (like this one), talk to your local shop owner, and look at pricing. Once you have rested, researched, and prepared yourself, only then are you ready to start smoking pipes or cigars.

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About Robert M. Barga

  • “The Risks” is the only part of this article worth reading/writing. *Smoking kills*; no one should ever do it.

  • Driving kills, eating salt kills, drinking kills, war kills, sometimes sporting events kill

    should we stop doing those? No, we should do what we like doing, once we are accepting of the risks

  • “Even James Bond was often seen with a pipe.”


  • Casino Royale, Dr. no, Spy who loved me, Octopussy and the Living Daylights

  • Robert,

    Were I ever to smoke at all, it would be a pipe. Even though lots of unthinking dummies do stick pipes in their mouths, pipe-smoking appears to be the “thinking man’s smoke”.

    But there are specific risks inherent with smoking pipes – the higher occurrence of mouth and lip cancers for example – that you do not mention at all in your article.

    Yes, all activity entails risk, even crossing the street or even getting up in the morning. But pipe and cigar smoking entail specific risks specific to these activities alone. And the pipe/cigar smoker pushing a favorite pastime in an article should man up and mention these risks to the innocent reading his article.

  • But there are specific risks inherent with smoking pipes – the higher occurrence of mouth and lip cancers for example – that you do not mention at all in your article.

    My apologies, Robert. You do mention these risks in the article. I had forgotten them when I originally read the piece. If were I to write this same article (I speak as one sympathetic to pipe smokers, at least), the risks would go a lot earlier in the article – where they wouldn’t be so forgettable.

  • All is forgiven Ruvy. Of course i made sure to mention the risks, as they are quite large and dangerous. However, I placed them near the end, so that they fit more naturally… Having it go RISKS BE HERE followed by why to smoke didnt make any sense to me

    that said, it is the thinking mans smoke. I would recomend trying it, as it calms the nerves, and really puts you in a odd little attitude area

  • I smoked twice. First time, high school, teeny tiny cigars. To be cool, of course.

    Second time, 4th of July, late 1970s, South Dakota prairie at night with a tornado nearby. We were lighting fireworks and I took my male friend’s cigarette for a firestarter since matches were getting blown to bits in the wind. I ended up smoking that whole weekend until I returned to the Twin Cities and came to my senses.

    I was likely turned off from serious smoking by my father’s Army issue cigarettes. Yuck.

  • Joanne,
    this is why i am writing about cigars and pipes. Cigarettes are disgusting and taste like crap. Cigars and pipes, on the other hand, are rich and flavorful

  • Beth Montgomery

    What type of pipe do you recommend getting?

  • That depends, are you new at smoking or a long-time user?

    I would assume new, as you asked the question, so the budget starts to matter.

    I should have a guide to picking your first pipe up sooner or later (that one should be the next article in the series), so come back to check it out

  • Bliffle

    I smoked pipes for about 20 years around the time I was at university. In my experience the best shape for a pipe was the “Apple”, which has a thick bowl near the bottom and a thin bowl near the top. That seems to make them easy lighting and long burning. A straight stem is best because it doesn’t allow liquid to collect at the bottom. Keep plenty of pipe cleaners on hand for any pipe. Really, you need about 4 to 7 pipes so that a pipe can dry out for a few days between uses. Cheap pipes are no good. Get at least Dunhill or Comoy pipes.

    But really, no one should smoke pipes (or anything else). Among other things, your sense of smell suffers. To get the best from the aroma of good tobacco just get some Burley, Virginia Bright Leaf and/or Latakia (Balkan Sobranie is a traditional favorite), put it in a humidor and take a whiff occasionally. Much better than actually burning the damn stuff.

  • @bliffle
    thanks for the advice on the site. I disagree about cheap pipes, as they are great for starters and to help rotate to keep your masterpiece cool

  • just smoking sometime when feeling tired.

  • @benben

    what exactly did that mean?

  • Stu

    All phases of smoking is bad for ones health thats for sure,but pipe smoking 2-3 times a day I think is less dangerous than cigs or cigars.
    I made my own pipe (cherry burl for the bowl,and stem)and do enjoy it after supper at nite!!!