the cost of pipe smoking

Feb 2006
Kelvin's House
this is a post for Joseph at the Smokers Forum. copied with his permission.

The Cost of Pipe Smoking

I started smoking a pipe after many years of occassional cigar smoking. Although I still enjoy a cigar from time to time, I find myself drawn more to my pipes recently for a number of reasons... I can smoke my pipe in my home office without the aroma lingering for a long time or circulating to other areas of the house; I can choose the amount of time I want to smoke by filling the bowl and choosing the pipe accordingly; I find that high quality pipe tobaccos offers greater complexity and balance than even the finest of Cuban cigars; and lastly, the cost of pipe smoking is a lot more budget friendly. It's the latter point which I want to focus on in this post.

For as long as I can remember I've always been a 'numbers guy', it's just the way my mind works. I'm always calculating the cost of different activities and the investment potential of different opportunities and ideas. I've often been called cheap or thrifty by friends and family because of the way I study the cost/benefit of how I spend my money. I prefer to use the word shrewd rather than thrifty or cheap but unfortunately I can't control the vocabulary of others.

This brings me to the topic of the cost of pipe smoking. Please keep in mind my examples are based on my own habits and most likely don't reflect the habits of other smokers. For the sake of simplicity, I'm assuming that a moderate pipe smoker consumes 100g of tobacco per month. By my calculation, this constitutes somewhere between one and two bowls of pipe tobacco a day, depending on the size of pipe smoked and how the bowl is filled. Just as an example, when I open a 50g tin of Escudo, there is roughly about 20 coins of tobacco present, which gives me roughly 20 bowls in a group 3 sized Dunhill pipe.

Also for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to use $35 a pound (or $77 a kilogram) for the cost of high quality tobacco. Obviously depending on what tobacco you choose to smoke your cost will most likely be a little bit higher or a little be lower than the number I've chosen to use. A quick and dirty calculation tells me that a moderate pipe smoker consumes roughly $92 in tobacco a year ($77 x 1200g). How does this compare to the cost of cigar or cigarette smoking? Well... to do that we would have to define how much tobacco the average cigar or cigarette smoker consumes. Since I don't have the hard statistics I'm going to assume (for the sake of simplicity) that a moderate cigar smoker smokes one corona sized high quality cigar per day (at a cost of $4) and the average cigarette smoker consumes 10 cigarettes a day (at a cost of $0.30 a cigarette). Using the same simple math, this would bring the yearly dollar consumption to $1460 for a cigar smoker and $1095 for a cigarette smoker. As you can see from my rather crude and inaccurate guesstimates, pipe smoking costs anywhere from 90-95% less than either cigar or cigarette smoking. Taking the numbers one step further for the sake of perspective, if we assume the average person starts smoking at age 18 (the legal age where I live) and lives until 78 (the average life expectancy currently in North America), that equates to 60 years of smoking. Not considering the effects of inflation and probable huge increases in taxes, the cost in today's dollars of buying either a lifetime supply of pipe tobacco, cigars or cigarettes is calculated to be $5520, $87600 and $65700 respectively. As you can easily see, the difference is quite huge. A lifetime of pipe smoking can easily be purchased for roughly the same price as a nice vacation in Hawaii or the Caribbean whereas you can buy a small house or cottage with both the cigar and cigarette numbers.

Now for the fun part... I think I can safely assume that the average North American adult could not afford to invest $65000 or $87000 in cigarettes or cigars, at least I know I cannot. Even $5500 is a lot of money for most of us, if we wanted to purchase a lifetime supply of pipe tobacco. But I have a solution! Why not use our discretionary funds to invest systematically on a monthly basis in the product we all love so much? According to my math, if you invest $100 a month into a pipe tobacco stock you will have a lifetime supply (for moderate pipe smoking) in a little over four and a half years. If you have the means to invest $200 a month then your timeline drops down to a little over two years! Imagine having a lifetime supply of pipe tobacco stashed away and aging gracefully along with the peace of mind of not having to worry about price increases, inflation or those dreaded tax increases brought on by the evil antis!

I'd love to stop my post there, but the investor in me is always moving a mile a minute. How about a solution that would bring your cost for a lifetime of pipe smoking down to zero, or better yet, how about being paid to smoke a pipe? I know I know, this is a pipe smokers Nirvana! Well... I have a solution for you. Why not start investing in tobacco... purchasing even more tobacco than you can smoke! I'm always seeing vintage tobacco being sold for 5,10,20 and sometimes 50 times what it was originally purchased for. I'm sure most of you have seen recent examples of 6-7 year old Christmas Cheer going for $70-100 a tin, Bohemian Scandal selling on ebay for $175 and that illusive Balkan Sobranie which fetched upwards of $400-500.

Personally, I can see the price of high quality pipe tobacco increasing in the years to come. Taxes most likely will push the cost to the consumer firmly up and tobacco is a commodity product which has historically always risen steadily with inflation anyway, not to mention the fact aged tobaccos taste better and commands a premium, in and of itself. It's also a win-win, because purchasing more tobacco in the short-term not only helps us, but it helps to support the tobacco growers, blenders and retailers that we love so much, in these tough economic times.

Just to conclude, I don't guarantee any of the examples or solutions I've offered above. I was just in the mood to write down some thoughts today, I hope I didn't bore you too much with my math.

Smoke in happiness and great health, it's now time for me to sit back and light up a bowl of fine tobacco.


Edit: I apologize for my lack of clarity. I was not suggesting to stop buying tobacco after you have a lifetime supply, just that you could if you wanted to, or if the prices or environment became too prohibitive to continue purchasing.
Apr 2006
Watching Eli smoke Robs cigars
I'm like a crack whore with pipes and baccy. Even though I have put a cap on spending I still have this burning desire to buy everything in sight! :mrgreen:
Apr 2006
Watching Eli smoke Robs cigars
My basement is filled with life sized pics of my self in a thong. Just some good healthy self adoration...

I'll make sure I get one for each of you sent off shortly in the mail. :mrgreen:
Apr 2006
This is certainly an interesting topic. But you haven't factored in the pipe cost, lighting system, and othe accesoriies. Maybe the more inportant question would be, what is the cost of NOT smoking a pipe. Would you smoke more cigars, cigarettes, dip snuff, kick the dog, require more blood pressure meds, drink more(is that a bad thing :D )?

On the plus side, I'm still smoking a $4.99 pipe I bought in 1964 so, the amortization of the pipe cost works out in my favor. Colibri lighters are lasting me about 14 years (on aveerage for the last 3). The cost has ranged from $15 for the first one to $55 for the last one.

My pipe has been fire, food and friend on more ocassions than I care to mention. The bottom line is, I don't care what it costs to enjoy my pipe. As long as my lady doesn't mind my smoking it and the dog dosen't give me the fuzzy eyball when I light up. I'm a happy camper.

A happy camper and contented pipe smoker.
Apr 2006
Watching Eli smoke Robs cigars
All the other stuff aside.

You have it right. When it comes to my pipes I am willing to sacrifice alot of other things in life. In fact I do. Recently I've been sitting outside by the fire pit with a pipe and a little music and have been able to put away so many other things to just enjoy the moment. Here lately those moments are so few and far between that when I get the chance I must make the most of them so price really becomes less of and issue and enjoyment becomes the priority.

I am currently eyeballing an awesome German pipe and putting money aside for it. It will take me a while but it will be mine! lolol!
Aug 2007
Yeah I am still buying Cigars. Just seem to enjoy them more for now. But I must agree at the prices I was amazed at how cheap pipe baccy was. Oh well.