Here at The Pipe Nook, I get many questions from those who are considering pipes, and are coming from a cigar smoking background. While I do enjoy a good cigar, I've found that pipe smoking is much more enjoyable to me overall. So, I've decided to share my thoughts on why pips are better (in my opinion) than cigars.
1. Price. The hurdle for most when it comes to pipes is the initial expense of the pipe. However, you can start with a cob for about the price of one good cigar. And if you decide it’s up your alley, you can buy a good briar pipe, or even 5 or 10 briar pipes, and the initial expense becomes statistically insignificant over the course of a lifetime of smokes.
2. Price Continued. A good premium cigar is typically about $8 to $10 these days. I can buy one tin of tobacco for nearly that price, and get twenty smokes instead of one! At least here in the US, and even at my favorite budget cigars (around $3 per stick) that puts it at minimum of a 1 cigar to 5 pipe bowl ratio…and even more if you prefer the costlier cigars…up to about a 1 to 20 ratio.
3. Price, Again. You'll find that I'm very budget conscious! When you lock into purchasing a bundle of cigars, or even a box (20 to 50 cigars), that’s quite the up front expense for one type of cigar. But you can spend much less fir a tin of pipe tobacco, have many smokes, and not be locked into just that one type of blend. You can buy 3 to 10 tins of tobacco for about the same as that one bundle or box of cigars, and have so much more variety at your disposal.
4. Permanence. When you smoke a cigar, it burns up and is gone forever. But when you smoke a pipe, and take care of it, that pipe remains with you. You get to know the pipe, can continued to admire it, and experience it getting better with age. Many pipe smokers can attest to the fact that your pipes can become beloved companions over the years. They can become artifacts, holders of many cherished memories of smokes among family and friends, or reminders of that smoke during which you made a life changing job decision or celebrated the birth of a child, or had a revelation about your purpose in life, or about God or the universe.
5. Time and convenience. When I start to smoke a cigar, I’m locked into an hour to even two hours of smoking. If I let the cigar go out for even a minute, it’s not the same smoke if I try to relight it. But with a pipe, if I get a phone call or a knock at the door, or get called away by my wife or kids, I can set the pipe down and return to it minutes or even hours later, and still enjoy much the same, if not the very same smoking experience! Or if I only have 30 minutes, I can fill half a bowl and not feel that I’m being wasteful. Pipes are a much better respecter of your time.
6. Variety. Cigars offer a unique experience, but the flavor profiles are typically very similar to me. I’ve caught flak from cigar enthusiasts for saying this in the past, but I still hold to it: while cigars can provide a handful of different flavors, with pipes, the sky is the limit! From straight Virginias, to Virginia/Periques, to straight Burleys, Dark-Fired Kentucky’s, Latakia blends of differing strengths, and all kinds of kitchen sink blends that marry multiple component tobaccos, there are infinitely more aspects and dimensions that can be experienced with pipe smoking. And while there are flavored cigars on the market, they are typically hiding lesser quality tobaccos. Aromatic pipe blends are most consistent, and provide many more flavor options for those who prefer an aromatic experience, from vanilla to cherry to rum to chocolate, and much more!
7. Relaxation. While cigars can provide a relaxing experience, they can also become an exercise in frustration if you run into a cigar with a tight draw, uneven burn uniformity, or worse, a wrapper that starts to unravel. Once you learn the art of pipe smoking, these frustrations can be highly mitigated through proper packing, tamping, and cadence.
8. Filters. Some pipe smokers never use them, but I will say this: cigars don’t even offer the option of filtering, which can mitigate the amount of impurities in the smoke, help keep a pipe smoking more uniformly, and more.
9. Strength. A bowl of Pipe tobacco typically has less nicotine content than a medium sized cigar. As such, I can enjoy more bowls of a pipe in a day or even a week than cigars, without reaching that head-spinning “uh-oh” moment of over-indulgence.
10. Smell and citizenship. I noticed very early on that most people (my wife included) prefer the room note of a pipe over that of a cigar. The cloying, permeating nature of cigar smoke clings much more and much longer to your clothes, your hair and beard, and your breath, than pipe smoke, which dissipates much more quickly. That’s good news for those who like getting close to their significant others who don’t like the smell of old smoke!
In conclusion, while I do enjoy cigars and find a place for them, I find that overall, pipes are more economical, more relaxing, less time encroaching, and less offensive to others than cigars. I hope many of you agree!
Keep 'em lit,