Pipes and pipe tobacco are a category unlike any other in the tobacco industry. In 2014, ABC News published a story titled “Pipe Smoking Rises from the Ashes to be Hip.” In this story, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) reported that pipes were experiencing a “slight upsurge” in sales and attributed that shift to changing perceptions about the hobby.
Curious if this is still the case, Tobacco Business conducted its own follow-up, asking two pipe manufacturers about the current state of the pipe community. Phil Morgan, general manager of Missouri Meerschaum, and David S. Huber, owner and operator of DSH Pipes, offered their insights into the pipe revolution.
DEBUNKING STEREOTYPES AND MISCONCEPTIONS
There have been many stereotypes and misconceptions plaguing pipe smokers in the past, including the beliefs that pipe smoking is for older, “grandfather-age” smokers or that there’s no interest in the hobby today. When it comes to what our interviewees believe is the biggest misconception people have about pipe smoking, each one had a different take. Morgan says the biggest misconception regarding pipe smoking is that it’s just about smoking. Much like the premium cigar industry, he views the camaraderie and friendship between pipe smokers as being key to the longevity of the pipe community—yet it’s something that is often overlooked by those who don’t smoke pipes.
For Huber, the misconception is that all tobacco products are the same and that smoking tobacco in any form smells bad and will kill you. “I haven’t met anyone yet who has failed to shift from fear about tobacco to a state of genuine curiosity and fascination once they had their first whiff from a tin of pipe tobacco,” he says. “I try to keep an open tin with me everywhere I go for that reason.”
While both of our interviewees work with pipes and don’t make or sell pipe tobacco, they still reported some trends among pipe enthusiasts and the pipe tobaccos they smoke. Huber says that he and other pipe smokers he knows are drawn to aged Virginia blends because of their depth, complexity and refinement of flavor.