Let’s try to tackle one of the big questions that new and potential pipe smokers often ask. First of all, I am no medical doctor, so take my opinions for what they’re worth. That’s all this is, my opinion. But it is an educated opinion.
Where does the fear of health risks associated with pipe smoking come from?
I think it stems largely from the decades-long anti-tobacco crusade spawned by government institutions as well as entities like the World Health Organization. I don’t trust any of them. And I certainly don’t trust them to decide what’s best for my health, tobacco use or not.
Granted, most of this anti-tobacco crusade in the United States targets cigarettes. I’ve never been a cigarette smoker and do not wish to become one. I simply don’t like cigarette smoking. To me, cigarettes are a product of industrial, corporate society and is a different world from premium tobacco found in quality cigars and pipe blends.
We can thank the holy trinity of government, pharmaceutical companies, and much of the medical profession for the unattractive “smoking kills” labels that adorn our tobacco tins.
So it is no wonder, with this constant barrage of doctors and governments telling the world to stop smoking, the thought crosses one’s mind almost instinctively: will this tobacco pipe kill me?
So, will the tobacco pipe kill me?
If you know me, you’re aware that I’m a Bible-believing Christian. Most of the Christian world that I grew up in told us that if you drank whiskey or smoked much tobacco, you were going to Hell. Many Christians still, almost by default, believe this to be the case and will judge you accordingly. This is hogwash and utter nonsense.
In my recent video with Malcolm Guite, he rightly pointed out that the Scriptures are silent on the use of tobacco, as it was a phenomenon at the time. Guite said that was the Scriptures DO suggest is temperance in all things. Now this is a point I agree with and strongly support.
I smoke maybe 1-2 bowls a day. On rare occasions, I’ll have 3. This hardly qualifies as being a “chain smoker” like you’d be qualified as if you smoked an entire pack of cigarettes (which have many cancer-causing chemicals in them). As perhaps many others have said, temperance and moderation is key to this whole question.
Not for one second do I think smoking the occasional pipe will kill you any sooner than eating the occasional Big Mac from Mcdonald’s (although I can’t imagine why anyone would eat such a thing.)
But the question remains: is pipe smoking bad for you?
How bad is it for my health? What health effects will I have when I smoke a pipe? For what it’s worth, with moderate pipe use, I think you are more likely to get killed by rush hour traffic than find yourself in mortal sickness because of your pipe. There are studies you can look up that discuss the risks of moderate pipe smoking. But from what I can tell, it is not the tobacco that creates a problem, but rather the heat.
Are you supposed to inhale pipe smoke?
I know folks tend to think there are no higher risk because pipe smokers do not inhale. But there is a risk with the heat if you do not know what you are doing. Heat damages the cell structure of the oral cavity, which has the potential to cause cancer.
That said, I have never known a pipe smoker to have oral cancer. Indeed, I would venture to assert that a good many folks who deal with oral cancer have never smoked in their life.
How to avoid this? Don’t smoke your pipe in a hurry. Slow down, and sip the smoke as was intended like a fine wine. Fast puffs create too much heat and destroy the flavor profile.
The smoke should never be hot. It should approach the tongue with flavor, not heat.
Is smoking from a pipe unhealthy?
To reference my talk with Guite once more, he told a story of his medical doctor saying to him that smoking a pipe does him more good mentally than it did him harm physically. I think this hits the nail on the head.
The bottom line is that pipe smoking cannot and should not be a hurried activity. One should enjoy the pipe and allow the slow sips to serve as solace. Those who worry excessively about the physical harm (gum disease, cardiovascular disease, life expectancy, cancer-causing agents, risks of lung disease, etc) of pipe tobacco should probably not smoke at all. It defeats the purpose.
Pipe smoking is about rest, relaxation, contemplation, and enjoying in its purest form a product that God created. I’ve had idiots who’ve told me that God also created marijuana and I should be more tolerant of dope addicts. Well, if we want to use that line of reasoning: He also created poison hemlock and oleander, two plants that I’m not putting in my pipe.
In our weird modern world of big tech, corporate business, and government stupidity, this is what I would tell potential and new pipe smokers: if you enjoy smoking a pipe, then keep it lit. More harm is done by following the advice of folks who don’t care if you die or not than there is in filling your bowl and enjoying a moment of reflection with your pipe.