Good-Bye Cigarettes, Hello Pipe

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By Steve Fallon: this article was originally published in The Pipe Collector, the North American Society of Pipe Collectors newsletter (NASPC), and is used here by permission. It's an excellent organization--consider joining.

Because I am the proud owner of every issue of The Pipe Collector newsletter and because I read each issue three or four times, I feel safe in saying that this outstanding publication has never dealt with ways to help those of our briar brethren who are battling the cigarette habit while enjoying their pipe-smoking hobby. I am sure that many of you, like me, know pipe lovers who have not yet been able to break the stranglehold that cigarettes have on them. Let me say up front that I am in no way condemning or condoning the use of cigarettes. If you enjoy them, that is your business. If, however, you are a pipe smoker attempting to kick the cigarette habit, then I would like to offer some time-tested tips that helped me and several other pipe smokers beat the habit.

If we were to take a poll of individuals who are currently smoking pipes and cigarettes, I think most of those polled would admit to wanting to make a clean break from cigarettes. I know the frustration of trying to quit myself. I began smoking cigarettes when I was sixteen. I smoked my first pipe three years later and alternated between the two for about 20 years before finally discovering how to end my relationship with cigarettes, which, by the way, helped me to more fully enjoy my pipe-smoking hobby. I have been free of the cigarette habit for nearly 10 years and am now completely content and satisfied with my three or four bowls of "pipe" a day.

Cigarettes deliver a large dose of nicotine to the system within seconds of that first inhalation of smoke. Each cigarette lasts (on average) long enough for the smoker to get seven or eight good shots of nicotine. When you consider the fact that a cigarette smoker gets more nicotine in his system from just one cigarette than a pipe smoker will get from a couple of bowls, well, it is not hard to see why the little weed is so addictive. A pipe smoker can put down his favorite briar for several days without getting the shakes, climbing the walls, and kicking the dog. How many times have we seen a briar brother finish a bowl of fine pipe tobacco only to sneak a cigarette a few minutes later to completely satisfy that nicotine craving?

If you are really serious about getting off cigarettes for good while at the same time increasing the enjoyment of your pipes, then follow the advice I am about to offer. Again, this not only worked for me, it has also worked quite well for many of my friends. First, you must really want to quit those nasty cigarettes. Begin envisioning yourself as a true pipe smoker who chooses to live each day contentedly puffing away on your briar companions. Think about how pipe smokers are (rightfully) perceived by others: intelligent, worldly, contemplative, relaxed, always in control, independent, and sexy. That's right, sexy! Women just naturally gravitate toward pipe smokers. My own beautiful wife says that watching the mere act of me lighting my pipe makes her want to snuggle up next to me. Hey, when she does, my pipe often will light on its own!

The next thing you must do is find a pipe tobacco that is gentle enough to puff on frequently yet strong enough in nicotine content to allow you to handle the nicotine cravings you will encounter at both expected and unexpected times during the transition process. (Remember, these cravings will become less and less frequent as time passes.) Latakia and oriental blends are very low in nicotine content, and many are also too heavy on the palate to be enjoyed as an "all-day smoke." Aromatic blends don't usually get the job done either. While some aromatic blends do contain a substantial amount of nicotine, they do not (for the most part) deliver the true tobacco taste that cigarette smokers enjoy. Virginia and particularly burley-based blends deliver the largest doses of nicotine. I have found that Dunhill's Royal Yacht and Orlik's Golden Slices are loaded with nicotine yet are light enough to be smoked all day. In fact, I get tickled at the reaction I get from some of my briar brothers (who have never been hooked on cigarettes) after they sample Royal Yacht in particular. Their eyes glaze over and they swoon and stagger as they walk. Even their speech becomes a bit slurred! A couple of "drug store" blends that also work are Prince Albert and Half & Half. The down side to the drug store blends is that they are usually a bit harsher in flavor, particularly as you get into the lower half of the bowl while smoking.

After locating a blend high in nicotine yet light enough for all-day puffing, the next step is to make the transition from "sometime" to "all the time" pipe smoker. Most cigarette addicts light up their first weed of the day within a few minutes of waking up in the morning. If you happen to be one of those individuals who leaps out of bed, throws on the coffee pot, jumps in the shower, dresses, and then flies off to work with coffee cup in one hand and cigarette in the other, you are just going to have to learn to wake up half an hour earlier and relax. If, on the other hand, you are like me and rise early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee, the newspaper and a little meditation time, then you already have a head start. The object is to slow down and enjoy your pipe. While the coffee is brewing, load your briar carefully, a pinch of tobacco at a time. Caress your pipe. Appreciate the excellent workmanship involved in creating such a workable masterpiece. Think of yourself as a confirmed pipe smoker waking up with your first bowl of pure pleasure to get the day started off the right way!

It is at this point that I am going to give some advice that may make some of my briar brothers gasp. But, please bear with me. Remember, we are helping our cigarette-addicted buddies turn a habit into a hobby. Here is the advice. As you light that first bowl of the day, do not be afraid to inhale. Yes, I said inhale. Gently allow yourself to inhale a few puffs as you begin smoking. This will deliver enough nicotine into your system to quench the body's nicotine craving. Once that has been done, sit back and enjoy a half hour or so of slow, gentle puffing. Try not to inhale anymore, but, if you feel you must, don't beat yourself over the head for doing it. The goal here is to wean your body off the need for heavy doses of nicotine while still being able to enjoy your pipe. Trust me. As time goes by, you will feel less and less need to inhale, until one day you will wake up and fine out that you are not inhaling at all.

After finishing your first bowl in a leisurely, enjoyable fashion, you are ready to go out for battle. Be sure to have your pipe reloaded and ready for gentle puffing whenever you feel the need for a smoke during the course of the day. Again, inhaling a puff here and there to take the edge off of your nicotine craving is okay. During your lunch break, why don't you eat less and smoke more? Hey, you'll perhaps even lose a few unwanted pounds as well as those unwanted cigarettes! Personally, my morning pipe with coffee is my favorite bowl of the day, but I have also come to really enjoy my "nooners" as well. Anticipate when it is that you smoke cigarettes the most and concentrate on lighting and smoking your pipe slowly and carefully during those times.

Other tips that may help you break the cigarette habit while enjoying your pipe more include the use of Nicorette chewing gum. Some of my friends who made the switch to full-time pipe smoking say that chewing the Nicorette gum between pipe loads really helped. Not only did it allow them to tame their cigarette urge, they found that, when they did fire up their pipes, the urge to inhale had been muted considerably. Another thing worth mentioning here is that, while you have heard that it is important to smoke the tobacco in your pipe all the way to the bottom of the bowl, if you are using well-broken-in pipe while quitting cigarettes, there should be no problem with dumping your load (hmmm, perhaps I should rephrase) and refilling with fresh tobacco if you are going several hours between smokes.

Finally, if you are trying to become a "pipe-only" smoker, tell some of your briar brothers of your intentions in order to enlist their support. When I made the break, I would spend more time in the company of my fellow pipe smokers. Just watching them enjoy their "pipes-only" lifestyle was indeed an inspiration. I hope my advice is taken in the manner intended. If you are unhappily hooked on cigarettes, I hope my tips help you to quit successfully. If you happen to enjoy smoking cigarettes as much as you enjoy smoking your pipe, then more power to you. How you enjoy your tobacco is your business.

This article was originally published in The Pipe Collector, the North American Society of Pipe Collectors newsletter (NASPC), and is used here by permission. It's an excellent organization--consider joining.