A comment was made by Jonathon concerning my essay yesterday about pipe smoking. I quote part of Jonathon's comment below:
"Much of the working poor are seen smoking cigarettes. The intellectuals and upper class are sometimes seen with pipes in there hands."
It is a very interesting comment and one that deserves further discussion. Pipe smoking is an unfortunately rare activity today for several reasons. First and foremost, the rise of the cigarette culture via the tobacco companies extensive push especially between 1940 and 1965 on advertising and sales of cigarettes (because they offered a greater profit margin (in terms of unit mass of tobacco) compared to pipe tobacco and cigars). This advertising push was successful and transformed our nation. Prior to 1930 or so, cigarette smoking was a less common indulgence than either pipes or cigars by males in the US. Again, prior to 1930, cigarettes were priced in such a manner that they were rather expensive given their small size. Many types of pipe tobacco and many types of cigars were more reasonably priced in comparison. During this period all economic classes indulged in pipes and cigars, with cigars skewing more towards the "elite, showy" crowd, and the pipe skewing more towards BOTH the intellectuals and the working-class folk.
It was only when the cigarette culture became the "norm" via advertising (to repeat, this came into full force sometime around 1940 or so) that pipes and cigars experienced their decline. Cigar consumption dropped rapidly (perhaps because the cigarette became the new "elite, showy" method of indulgence), but pipe tobacco consumption declined in a much more gradual manner through the early 1960s. By the 1960s, perhaps in part due to the enormous dominance of cigarettes and cigarette advertising, but also perhaps due to the start of a bit of "anti-intellectual sentiment" in the working-class folk (likely due to a mix of apathy and distrust towards the beatniks and hippie factions of intellectualism), many of the remaining pipe smoking men in the working classes switched to smoking exclusively cigarettes, and there was a significant decline in use of pipe tobacco. By the late 1960s and early 1970s the transformation was complete, and pipe tobacco began to be viewed as an avocation of the intellectual or the egg-head... the few die-hards who kept their pipes aglow while not part of the intellectual society were viewed as historical artifacts and hence lost the ability to attract any of their sons, nephews, and grandsons into the hobby.
Today, the anti-tobacco fervor has made it difficult for indulgence in any sort of tobacco, but perhaps because of the nature of the pipe, it may be able to benefit from the demonization of the cigarette in particular. Much like cigars were in the last 10 years or so, it seems pipe tobacco use may be ready to return to a bigger (and in my opinion, more delightful) role in society.
I hope it is so. I think that pipe tobacco is a far more congenial activity. I feel that indulging in a pipe promotes friendly interactions. It is a hobby I greatly enjoy and find mentally, emotionally, and aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps there will be more in another essay tomorrow.