A number of Native American cultures had pipe-smoking traditions, long before the arrival of Europeans. Tobacco was often smoked, generally for ceremonial purposes, though other mixtures of sacred herbs were also common. The narrow calumet (called "peace pipe" by Europeans), was smoked in ceremony to seal covenants and treaties. Tobacco was introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century and spread around the world rapidly. In Asia during the 19th century, opium (which previously had only been eaten) was added to tobacco and smoked in pipes. Madak (the mixture of opium and tobacco) turned out to be far more addictive than orally-ingested opium, leading to social problems in China which culminated in the Opium Wars.
According to Alfred Dunhill, Africans have had a long tradition of smoking hemp in gourd pipes, asserting that by 1884 the King of the Baluka tribe of the Congo had established a "riamba" or hemp-smoking cult in place of fetish-worship. Enormous gourd pipes were used.
In the 20th century, pipe smoking has been adopted as a preferred method of inhaling a variety of psychoactive drugs, and some claim it is a more intense method of ingestion. Smokeable crack cocaine has a reputation for being more addictive than cocaine's insufflated form. Similarly, methamphetamine has gained popularity in a crystalline form which when smoked in a pipe lets the user avoid the painful nasal irritation of snorting. When not applied to a cigarette or joint, the liquid form of PCP is typically smoked in a pipe with tobacco or cannabis.
Pipes have been fashioned from an assortment of materials including briar, clay, ceramic, corncob, glass, meerschaum, metal, gourd, stone, wood and various combinations thereof, most notably, the classic English calabash pipe.
The size of a pipe, particularly the bowl, depends largely on what is intended to be smoked in it. Large western-style tobacco pipes are used for strong-tasting, harsh tobaccos, the smoke from which is usually not inhaled. Smaller pipes such as the midwakh or kiseru are used to inhale milder tobaccos such as dokha and kizami or other substances such as cannabis and opium.
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The customs, vocabulary and etiquette that surround pipe smoking culture vary across the world and depend both on the people who are smoking and the substance being smoked.
For example, in many places in Europe and North America, tobacco pipe smoking has sometimes been seen as genteel or dignified and has given rise to a variety of customized accessories and even apparel such as the smoking jacket, and the Pipe Smoker of the Year award in the UK, as well as the term kapnismology ("the study of smoke").
The ceremonial smoking of tobacco or other herbs, as a form of prayer, is still practiced in a number of Native American religious traditions.
Cannabis culture has its own pipe smoking traditions which differ from tobacco pipe smoking. For example, unlike tobacco smokers, cannabis users frequently pass a single pipe among two or more partners.
Famous pipe smokers
A number of real and fictional persons are strongly associated with their habit of pipe smoking.
- Albert Einstein was known for smoking a pipe. He once said, "I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs."
- Earl Bertrand Russell.
- Bing Crosby.
- Sherlock Holmes is explicitly described as a pipe smoker.
- Santa Claus, is described thus (1839): "The stub of a pipe he held clenched in his teeth".
- Herbert Hoover, 30th President of the United States
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 31st President of the United States.
- Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States.
- Joseph Stalin with a pipe was a common image: "Photos of him appeared daily in the Soviet press, now in genial pipe-smoking profile, now walking with his comrades..."
- Helmut Schmidt, Chancellor of West Germany.
- Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- J. R. R. Tolkien loved pipe smoking; The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings have several detailed scenes of characters engaging in it.
- General Douglas MacArthur was often photographed with his signature corncob pipe.
- Sandro Pertini (President of the Italian Republic 1978-85).
- Mark Twain (American author) Samuel Clemens, the author of Huckleberry Finn favored Missouri Meershaum corncob pipes. He was notoriously partial to a special blend of "Cuban leaf" pipe tobacco, remarking once that "If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go."
- William Faulkner (American author) Faulkner was known to be an enthusiastic propnent of pipe smoking.
- Ernest Hemingway (American author)
- Jean-Paul Sartre (French philosopher)
- Clark Gable (American film actor)
- Hugh Hefner
- Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown (American blues musician) An avid pipe smoker, the Texas-blues guitarist often sold his own proprietary blend of pipe tobacco as well as autographed pipes at his concerts and shows.
- Sparky Anderson (American baseball manager)
- Edward VIII (Duke of Windsor)
More examples can be found in the Pipe Smoker of the Year list.
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The overall health risks are 10% higher in pipe smokers than in nonsmokers. However, pipe or cigar smokers who are former-cigarette smokers might retain a habit of smoke inhalation. In such cases, there is a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease and a nearly three times greater risk of developing COPD. In addition, there is a causal relationship between pipe smoking and mortality due to lung and other cancers, as well as periodontal problems, such as tooth and bone loss.
However, all tobacco products deliver nicotine to the central nervous system, and there is a confirmed risk of dependence. Many forms of tobacco use are associated with a significantly increased risk of morbidity and premature mortality due to tobacco-related diseases but a WHO committee on tobacco has also acknowledged the evidence is inconclusive regarding health consequences for snus consumers.
Gerrit Dou: self-portrait with long-stemmed clay pipe (1645).
Author Anne de Vries smoking a pipe
Georgian composer, Meliton Balanchivadze smoking pipe.
Arab man smoking pipe, late 1800s.
- The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
- [Dunhill, Alfred | "The Pipe Book" | London | A & C Black, 1924]
- National Trends in Drug Abuse
- Origin of kapnismology
- Hookah's New Haven
- A Sherlock Holmes related bibliography, includes quite a few articles devoted to smoking habits of Mr. Holmes
- "Pipes, People and Dealing with Stress". PipesMagazine.com. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- "The Briar Files: A blog about pipes and pipe smoking.". 14 November 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- "Famous Pipe Smokers". Alt Smokers Pipe. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- [Graves, K. Maxwell Jr., Pipe Smoking Friends--Famous and Infamous, Pipes & Tobacco magazine, Summer 2002, pp. 28-30]
- [Edwards, Martin, It All Comes Back, Pipes & Tobacco magazine, Spring 2002, pp. 14-17]
- Madden, Bill. "Sparky Anderson, a great manager with great stories, saw welcome wear thin with Reds and Tigers," Daily News (New York City), Friday, November 5, 2010.
- Tobacco Pipe Prince Shape – TobaccoPipes.com.
- Viegas CA. Noncigarette forms of tobacco use. J Bras Pneumol. 2008;34(12):1069–73. doi:10.1590/S1806-37132008001200013. PMID 19180343.
- http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2009/0421/1224245059341.html[full citation needed]
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