Surprisingly, Smoking Tobacco From A Pipe May Have Health Benefits

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Why Are We Told That Smoking Is So Bad For Us?

Because smoking cigarettes is. It harms almost every organ in your body. It causes 20% of all deaths in the united states annually. Cigarettes often contain poisons such as acetone, ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, tar and more. Most studies on smoking that indicate how bad it is for you tend to group cigarette smoking which is full of these poisons with pipe smoking which contains none of these poisons. The chart below shows how likely a cigarette, cigar or pipe smoker is to develop lung cancer compared to a non-smoker.
· Non-smoker 1.0 (base number)
· Cigarette – 20 grams / day 16.0 (i.e. 16 x the risk of non-smokers)
· Cigar – 20 grams / day 3.2
· Pipe – if > 10 bowls per day 6.7
· Pipe – if 5 bowls per day 3.2
· Pipe – if 3 bowls per day 1.5
· Pipe – if 2 bowls per day 1.26
· typical – 2 bowls every 2-3 days ~1.05 (almost same as non-smoker)
Data taken from

Health Risks of Smoking in General

Smoking cigarettes causes tremendous health problems including: a number of cancers like lung and throat, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, heart disease, strokes and more. Smoking tobacco from a pipe causes minimal but still existent health risks and may actually have health benefits if not inhaled and not smoking excessive amounts over long periods of time.  We all know tobacco is addictive so it may be difficult to maintain a desired rate of smoking.  Some smokers report that smoking tobacco with no additives was less addictive for them than smoking tobacco with additives.

Tobacco Pipe
Tobacco Pipe (Photo By Abudimir85 / Wikimedia)

Does Smoking Tobacco From A Pipe Really Have Health Benefits?
This was so shocking and unbelievable to me when I heard it that I had to do more research. The following is a quote from the US Surgeon General report “Smoking and Health” (No. 1103, page 92) “Among the pipe smokers…The U.S. mortality ratios are 0.8 for non-inhalers and 1.0 for inhalers;”. So what does that mean, their study was using a mortality ratio of 1.0 as the mortality ratio for a non-smoker, and what they found is that pipe smokers that don’t inhale have a slightly lower mortality ratio which means that they live slightly longer.  That needs repeating…Pipe smokers that don’t inhale live longer that non-smokers according to that study. This makes it clear that smokers should switch to pipes, it would be a much healthier way to enjoy this natural herb.   If you do smoke, keep in mind that smoking a pipe as infrequently as once a day is recommended.  It is not recommended that non-smokers start smoking tobacco because of the addictive properties of nicotine.

Why Do Cigars And Chewing Tobacco Have Significantly More Health Risks Than Smoking From A Pipe?

Cigars and chewing tobacco don’t fill our bodies with the same toxins as cigarettes but they do have more health risks than smoking through a pipe. When smoking a cigar or chewing tobacco the tobacco is in constant contact with the sensitive parts of the mouth. That is why there is a higher risk of mouth cancer and mouth burns which could lead to cancer. More information, data and safe smoking habits can be found here

Native American Smoking A Pipe
Native American Smoking A Pipe


There are over 1 billion people that smoke cigarettes world-wide.  For these people, learning about the reduced risk of pipe smoking could satisfy their nicotine addiction and save their lives.  A smokers risk for lung cancer could be reduced by almost 94%.  The information in this article shows that smoking tobacco, one of natures herbs, in a responsible way does not increase health risks, and may actually have slight health benefits. The Native Americans and all the other indigenous smokers had it right, but in this century we have adulterated the hobby of smoking by adding so many poisonous chemicals.  Educating ourselves on the risks and benefits of enjoying one of natures herbs could lead to a much healthier life for smokers.

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47 Responses

  1. I have been looking for the actual source for the caption above, but this is not it. The journal indicated does not contain the text shown, on any page.

    Here is the full text of page 92 of the journal indicated, which clearly does not include the text mentioned –

    resented as an additive function of the amount of smoking and the degree of
    inhalation (although other types of mathematical relationship would also fit
    the data). In their analysis, the average change in logarithm of death rate
    from “no inhalation” to “deep inhalation” is as great as the difference between
    consumption of less than 10 cigarettes and consumption of more than
    40 cigarettes daily.
    In the Canadian data the inhalers have higher mortality ratios than the
    non-inhalers for each amount of smoking. No trend with amount of smok.
    ing appears for the non-inhalers, but the ratios in this row are based on
    rather small numbers of deaths.
    For cigar smokers (current and ex-smokers) in the 25-state study 19 per.
    cent stated that they inhaled to some extent. The mortality ratio is 0.89 for
    non-inhalers and 1.37 for inhalers. The latter increase of 37 percent (based
    on 91 deaths) is statistically significant, but as the data have not been sub
    classified by amount of smoking the result may be partially a reflection of
    the increase in death rates noted in Table 4 for heavy cigar smokers. In the
    Canadian study, 13 percent of the cigar smokers classified themselves as in-
    halers, but the number of deaths is insufficient to present a breakdown of the
    mortality ratio by inhalation status.
    Among the pipe smokers there were 28 percent who inhaled in the U.S.
    study and 18 percent in the Canadian study. The U.S. mortality ratios are
    0.8 for non-inhalers and 1.0 for inhalers; the Canadian data contain too few
    deaths to allow a breakdown by inhalation.
    For men who had stopped smoking prior to the date of enrollment, Table
    11 gives the mortality ratios from five studies for “cigarette only” smokers
    and “cigarette and other” smokers. The corresponding results for current
    cigarette smokers (from Table 2) are given for comparison. The distinc-
    tion between current and ex-smokers is not of course clear cut, since some
    current smokers may have stopped after enrolling in the study and some ex.
    smokers may have later resumed smoking.
    With one exception, the mortality ratios for ex-smokers lie consistently be-
    low those for current smokers and above those for non-smokers. In inter-
    preting comparisons of ex-smokers and current smokers there are at least
    three relevant factors. If smoking is injurious to health, cessation of smok,
    ing would be expected to reduce the mortality ratio. Secondly, some men
    stop smoking because of illness. In the 25-State study, over 60 percent of
    the men who had stopped smoking within a year prior to entry stated that a
    disease or physical complaint was one of the reasons for stopping (12).
    This factor would tend to make mortality ratios for ex-smokers higher than
    those for current smokers. Finally, ex-smokers may have previously smoked
    smaller amounts than current smokers. This factor is not the explanation
    of the drops in mortality ratios in Table 11. In a further breakdown by
    amount of smoking, made for the three largest studies, the mortality ratio
    for ex-smokers is consistently below that for current smokers for each amount

    1. The quote “Pipe smokers that don’t inhale live longer that non-smokers” does not actually exist in the text of the Surgeon General’s report. It was a paraphrase of the data you found, specifically the part that says “Among the pipe smokers there were 28 percent who inhaled in the U.S. study and 18 percent in the Canadian study. The U.S. mortality ratios are 0.8 for non-inhalers and 1.0 for inhalers; the Canadian data contain too few deaths to allow a breakdown by inhalation.”

      If the Seattle Pipe Club cited this as a direct quote, well, they were wrong. It is, however, an accurate interpretation of the data.

      1. Walt, Thanks for the research, I really appreciate it. I attempt to make my articles as accurate as possible. I assumed the seattle pipe club’s information was accurate. I agree with you that the results do come to the same conclusion and i have seen other reports as well. but since it doesn’t say that exactly i’ve modified the article to be more accurate about the quotes.

    2. Thanks a lot James, I’ve modified the article. I strive to be as accurate as possible, I assumed the quote on seattle pipe club was accurate, but i guess not. thats what happens when you assume. it seems like the results are the same but the quote is not there, so i clarified in this article.

  2. Thank you for the information. I recently put down cigarettes (1 pack+ a day) in favor of a pipe once or twice a day. I have been trying to research the health impact of that choice and the vast majority of what I have found is demonization of anything to do with tobacco. There is generally no data attached, just shaming. I think we all know there is likely some health impact in choosing a pipe over a carrot stick, but I prefer to make informed choices based on actual data.

    1. ya, I had a little trouble finding data that distinguished between cigarettes and pipes. Its even hard to find data that distinguishes between additive free cigarettes and regular cigarettes. I am not a smoker but my interest in medicinal plants has lead me to question much of the data out there. I completely agree that smoking a pack a day of regular cigarettes is probably terrible for you and leads to all sorts of disease. but the other end of spectrum is to smoke additive free tobacco or other herbs from a pipe once a day or a few times a week.

    2. There is an independent film call “you don’t know nicotine” that’s very informative about tobacco and nicotine itself. I guess what it could down to is what chemical additives are in the actual tobacco products. The most trustworthy studies I’ve found as a vape smoker (though I do smoke cigars and pipe tobacco) is out of the UK and Europe.

  3. Do you have a source for the picture used in the article. I would love to be able to get a print for work. Thanks, Debbie

  4. Sorry but your statetment “Smoking tobacco with no additives poses drastically less health risks than cigarettes.” is just an urban legend.
    In fact there is – if any – only a small difference between additive tobacco smoke and organic tobacco smoke. Apart from this pipe tobacco often contains even more additives than cigarettes.

    The only reasons why pipes are lesse harmful are, that pipe smokers smoke less and they don’t inhale the smoke.

    1. Thanks for the info, i did a little more research and changed that paragraph around. The only benefit i have heard repeatedly is that some people have found tobacco with no additives less addicting. therefore they were able to smoke less

    2. Absolutely not true that pipe tobacco contains more additives than cigarettes. As one who primed tobacco for 15 years in the fields of NC for RJR Tobacco, I can unequivocally tell you the manner in which pipe tobacco is cured and processed is nothing like the chemical processing that cigarette tobacco is subjected to. Do some real research. Speak to people who know. Hell, do some tours and get the facts straight from tobacco manufacturers before you parrot some article you read that you think aligns with your own prejudices and proclivities.

    3. That’s a load of bs. Pipe tobacco is way less chemical. It’s also more moist and is way better than cigarettes you should get educated better other than reading bs



    A good magnifying glass or loupe
    Sheet of plain white paper
    A cigarette
    Premium pipe tobacco ex. Cap’n Black, Borkum Riff, e.g. the more expensive brands at your local store.
    Cheap “pipe tobacco”, the kind sold for roll your own smokes, ex. Criss Cross, <$15/lb in PA.


    Dump a small amount of each on the paper, and examine with the magnifier

    Real tobacco leaf will look like a leaf, have tiny veins, irregular scaly appearance

    Fake tobacco leaf – will look like colored textured paper, and that is exactly what it is.
    Colored, textured paper made from the tobacco plant scraps and waste stalks, leaf ribs, etc.
    This is called TOBACCO-BY-PRODUCTS, and it is made the same way they make brown paper bags and cardboard for boxes. This process adds chemicals to break down the fibers into a slurry, which is rolled, dried, and run thru a texturizer to produce tobacco paper. Then they add tobacco flavoring, coloring, and nicotine to simulate real tobacco leaf.


    Cigarette tobacco has a lot of this material in it.
    Cheap pipe tobacco has some of it in it
    My Captain Black has none of it in it, in fact an occasional stem that slipped thru the sieve is encountered.


    Does all of the additional processing/added chemicals to make the tobacco-by-product paper found in cigarettes contribute to the additional unhealthiness? Do the added colorings, flavors, and nicotine also contribute???

    Other Considerations:

    One other difference between cigarettes, cigars, and pipes…
    Cigarette filters are made from polyester fiber, remember the last time you lit the wrong end, probably after drinking a lot of alcohol, it melted, and smelled like burning plastic.
    The minute bits of polyester fibers that are inhaled (respirable) cannot be broken down by the body, and act as a lung irritant like asbestos fibers, and silica fibers.
    The minute bits of tobacco inhaled (respirable) by pipe, and cigar smokers (no filters) are eventually broken down by the body, and eliminated just like any other plant based dust one may regularly inhale.
    Poly carpet fiber, and poly clothing originating dust make have a similar effect as cigarette filter material.

  6. The statement in question was a quote from Dr. Gaboriau’s speech, not from the Surgeon General’s report. As the webmaster at, I have removed the quote marks from this statement to avoid confusion.

  7. I actually took up pipe smoking from my own research into the health benefits. Pipe smoking used to be used as a treatment for bad breath and allergies, something that I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt work.

    While it’s only conjecture on my part, I think it works in both cases due to the acidic nature of the smoke. It changed the pH of my mouth, so the bacteria that caused my bad breath were basically killed off (I used to have a constant white coating that I could never get rid of no matter how much I brushed/scraped my tongue, but has now been gone for over 3 year. I had that coating for the better part of 30 years).

    As for my allergies, I think the smoke desensitizes the nerves in the nasal passage. Before I started smoking my pipe, I had tried nearly every allergy medicine except nasal sprays because I didn’t like the post nasal drip they caused, and nothing really worked. Within 2 months of smoking my pipe however, bearing in mind I would smoke it once a day for 2-3 days in a row , almost all my nasal allergy conditions are for the most part gone.

    I went from basically eating 2-3 bags of cough drops a week to control my cough to maybe a bag a month under the worst allergy months. So for me, the quality of life I have after I started smoking a pipe is like night and day.

    1. That’s great first hand information. To me it highlights the need to remember to approach everything in moderation. It was very difficult to find information for the article. We all know the health risks of smoking but it seemed that people were afraid to write about the benefits and how to aim to reduce the risks, primarily by not smoking a too much.

  8. We switched to buying cigarette tubes & packing them with pipe tobacco…
    Not only is it much healthier (if you MUST) smoke… But it costs a fraction of the price… A carton of name brand cigarettes is about $55 (200 cigarettes)
    One box of cigarette tubes (200) and one bag of pipe tobacco is about $8 (200 pipe tobacco cigarettes)
    Big difference!!!

  9. This is incredibly interesting! I always believed that there are benefits and risks to everything. Sometimes risks outweigh benefits. But with very occasional smoking, specifically from a pipe it seems like benefits outweigh risks. My guess is that it could be the stress reduction having a more positive effect than any negative effect of tobacco.

  10. Your ‘facts’ are riddles with flaws and misinformation. You’re spreading lies about smoking. Almost none of your information here is correct. Read that again, ALMOST NONE of this information is fact based. Anyone with a brain can see right through all of this nonsense. get your facts straight or get this page closed down, it is an abomination.

    1. I tried to mention my sources in the article, I’m definitely not an expert on smoking nor do I claim to be. If you know that any data is specifically wrong, then let me know and I’ll change it or add additional data. If people switch from smoking cigarettes everyday to smoking a pipe a few days a week then according to what I have seen, that seems better for their health.

      1. The report you quote is from 1964. That seems like a very important fact, which no doubt you didn’t notice while researching (easily missed!). Studies into the dangers or otherwise of tobacco have progressed a lot in the last half-century. Please at least edit your article to include that information – better yet would be to write a retraction.
        (I came across your page while researching a claim made in a MOOC by the university of Michigan)

        1. Pipes have not been closely studied since the 60s as far as I know. So if things have progressed a lot, where are the updates on pipe smoking in new studies since then? I don’t think a retraction is needed because an article is old, unless something stated was 180º false. Did you think anything was outright false?

    2. Wow, your name is actually Karen. None of the information is fact based? How do you know that aside from that you say so?

    3. Many illnesses are psychosomatic my light pipe smoking helps me relax ( I don’t inhale ) so yes it probably is beneficial to me , I am quite old and in good health .

  11. I thought it was interesting how you said that pipe smoking is a better way to enjoy the natural herb of tobacco. There would probably be some really cool ways of doing it to by using glow pipes and stuff like that. My brother enjoys smoking so maybe I’ll have to recommend this to him so he doesn’t do so much damage to himself.

  12. The one comment I would have on this is that I think there is too little data on switching from cigarette’s to pipes to conclude their are benefits. While I agree that people who only ever smoked cigars and/or used chewing tobacco might have health benefits and that the risks are probably no worse than many other bad habits folks have (like say America’s sugar addiction), most former cigarette smokers continue to inhale the smoke. It might be provide some health benefits, but it is probably still very dangerous and they might be better off switching to using nicotine gum or a patch.

  13. Hell, I loved smoking when I was a smoker. Except when I didn’t, and wanted to stop.

    During that time of slow transition from smoker to Buttkicker, as I refer to myself today, I looked for any shred of evidence I could find to suggest that continuing to use tobacco was a good (or even neutral) idea.

    I smoked a pipe for awhile. And clove cigarettes at another time. And and and. I wanted a way to maintain the status quo of inhaling smoke into my body, which is so much easier than change, especially uncomfortable change. Kicking tobacco was incredibly uncomfortable for me. Now, many years later, I understand why it was, having done and read a helluva lot of research along the way.

    Kicking isn’t for everyone. There are over a billion people on this planet still using tobacco, even though about half of them report they’d rather be free and use their time, money and life in other pastimes. It’s compelling… and I’m not here to recruit anyone; I just like presenting another option, another perspective.

    It’s possible to kick, stay free and feel glad you did.

    It can be a tough transition… and worth it. I’m LOVING life on the other side of tobacco, in any form, and now I’ve got a whole pack of friends who feel the same way. That’s a fact, and I don’t need a Surgeon General report to substantiate it. I’ll put that in my pipe and smoke it:)

  14. My brother started smoking ever since he was in high school. Since his birthday is just around the corner, I plan to give him a tobacco as a gift because I heard that he has never tried one. However, I think I just had another idea due to your article. It appears that smoking tobacco from a pipe has reduced risks. Like you said, it was found that there is a lower ratio of the mortality rate for those who use this kind of smoke. Thanks for the information!

  15. Thanks for getting the proper message from this article. If I can get someone who smokes cigarettes to switch to pipe smoking a few times a week instead. The data seems to show that that could be better healthwise.

  16. Karen Peebles: To be fair, they aren’t the author’s facts. They are the Surgeon General’s. Maybe you could read the study and point out which parts are wrong.

  17. My uncle is thinking about getting a pipe to smoke with and wants a cool one. It would be really nice if I could get him a glass smoking pipe for his birthday. I’ll be sure to tell him those pipe smokers that don’t inhale live longer than non-smokers.

    1. You want a “cool” pipe – try an OMS or Dagner, or even a Joe Case if you can get one. Can’t get much cooler than that.

  18. I am a medical doctor with a additional qualifications in research methodology. I smoke cigars and pipes in moderation myself.

    I am not here to discourage people. Everyone should make their own choices but the right information is necessary to make that choice.

    Please be aware that the information above is full of false facts and unsound conclusions. Pipe and cigar smoking carries less risks than cigarette smoking but there are risks, including cancer.

  19. I have smoked a pipe since I was 18, I am now 86 and smoke 6-8 pipes per day. I only smoke Captain Black (Royal) which is one of the most expensive pipe tobaccos, but it is worth it. I have had numerous people comment on the great aroma of the smoke. I spend most of my days hunched over a computer terminal so a pipe works well, no ashes on my keyboard. I enjoy the pipe to the extent that I have asked my children to include a pipe with my body when I am cremated just in-case the man upstairs has a smoking area.

    1. Captain black royal has very a nice flavor and is a good blend of the gold and black, its nice to hear someone else likes it as much as I do!

  20. ive found there is a big difference between pipe smokers and cigar(ette) smokers, it seems serious smokers and vapers are out for the instant gratification of the nicotine high. Myself and other pipe smokers that I know do so for the calming and enjoying aroma of a good quality leaf.

    Speaking on quality and legitimacy; I must say there are too many fake pipe tobaccos out there now, they are literally just cigarette tobacco with the words ‘pipe tobacco’ written on it. I would never in a million years, smoke that rubbish, and the companies that make it should be ashamed of themselves. I imagine it must have been done to avoid certain taxes and cater to the roll-your-own community, but now taxes in many places have been put into pipe tobaccos of all kinds, fake or real.

    It takes patience, grace, and appreciation to smoke pipe tobacco proper, and it is sad that we have to be lumped into the cigarette/cigar/chew category. I am ashamed to admit I was one of these smokers in my youth though now I have turned over a new leaf (pun sorry!) and have a new-found freedom and peace in smoking the way I feel is “right” for me. Since then, I have felt much better than I ever did smoking cigarettes. I am probably in the 3/day category at this time, I couldn’t go higher than that, I just don’t feel the pull to do so. The experience is very similar to how I drink tea. Tea has many of the same rules when it comes to enjoying its flavor, like having patience when preparing and paying attention to product quality, taking your time and savoring each taste.

  21. Thanks for the article… a couple more notes (from personal memory! please search for yourself to confirm!) based off the subsequent discussion:
    It was indeed the 1964 US Surgeon General report which alluded to some life-extension benefit to pipesmoking (with risk of mouth lesions). I also remember a 1972 report with equally-vague confirmation. I recall a Swedish study comparing twins, with a life-extension benefit if one was a pipesmoker, possibly a French study associating music, math and pipesmoking with longevity. Some associated the benefit with stress-management. But in all cases the data is skimpy… after 1964 the war on Big Tobacco was on, and contrary hypotheses did not get funding. (Remember that old film of beagles being surgically forced to smoke? Didn’t cause cancers. Scary regardless.)
    Cigarette tobacco is indeed a paper-like substance, called Reconstituted Sheet Tobacco (RST) in the trade. It was invented after World War I when machines were developed for the new market in cigarettes, and the process was a modification of the Post/Wheaties treatment of cereal grains. The RST is mostly tobacco, but glycerine, flavors, and other adulterants are added… most cigarette smoke is chemically different from pure tobacco smoke.
    I’m not certain how well pipe-tobacco in cigarette-papers would work… the long curing of pipe tobacco changes the alkalinity, making it easier to absorb through mucus membranes of nose and mouth… inhaling pipe tobacco into the lungs is not pleasant, the idea is to sip the smoke.
    W.M.Thackeray: “The pipe draws wisdom from the lips of the philosopher, and shuts up the mouth of the foolish it generates a style of conversation, contemplative, thoughtful, benevolent, and unaffected.”

  22. Interesting how many will single out a particular health risk and indulge in others ! For example the US Surgeon recently acknowledged that obesity (30) lbs and over is now considered to be more of a heath risk than a smoker ! Or how many will eat regularly this junk processed food system full of preservatives and chemicals that are not natural and the harmful nitrates stuffed in it as well. Remember the study France just released on the cancers being caused by the added nitrates. What about all the fruits and vegetables that are not ( organic) that are sprayed with the weed killers ? Something to think about?

    1. Thanks for sharing that. What’s most interesting is that non-daily pipe smokers actually have a lower all-cause death rate than non-smokers, which suggests a possibility of what the original article here is stating.

  23. This essay offers an interesting viewpoint on smoking and its health consequences. In terms of health concerns, it’s intriguing to compare cigarette smoking versus pipe smoking. The mortality ratio statistics for pipe smokers who do not inhale is particularly shocking. While learning about the possible health advantages of pipe smoking is exciting, it is equally critical to recognize nicotine’s addictive nature. When examining the touch of tobacco with sensitive regions, the differentiation between cigars, chewing tobacco, and pipe smoking makes sense. Individuals must educate themselves on the hazards and advantages linked with various kinds of smoking. Overall, this paper provides a fresh perspective that challenges us to reconsider our attitudes on smoking and its possible health consequences.

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