Pipe Tobacco By The Numbers

We are going to lay out for you just how much pipe tobacco you should have in your tobacco cellar based on how much you smoke. If that wasn’t enough, we are going to break down how much that’s going to cost you. The information is based on an internal study and should be a good guide to get you started if you’re thinking about putting some pipe tobacco away.

OK, we’ve all heard it. The FDA is trying to kill tobacco. The problem is they are gaining traction. They are in cahoots with radical anti-smoking groups who keep suing the FDA to keep the pressure on and in doing everything they can to get rid of tobacco once and for all. Smoking has drastically declined over the past couple of decades which nobody argues isn’t a good thing in general. People choosing not to smoke cigarettes has been a big step in curbing a habit in which about 1/3 of the people who smoked cigarettes suffered some kind of smoking related illness or death.

The problem is that pipe smoking and cigar smoking have been swept up in that wave. Cigarette smoking was mostly diminished by societal pressures as a whole. People knew someone who was or was related to someone who cigarettes personally hurt. Over the years people learned about the dangers and chose not to smoke them. Pipes and cigars, not being like cigarettes, didn’t have the same social stigmas. So the all knowing government took it upon themselves to step in and do the job.

The Long Battle

The latest campaigns are starting to add up. Labeling requirements that will place unnecessary burdens on manufacturers are just around the corner. Last week a Maryland court struck down the extension tobacco companies needed to submit their product information (ingredient listing) in an effort to get them approved by the FDA. They are now in a position that they must submit the information and there isn’t even any guidance on how they are supposed to do it. An impossible to win situation.

Communities are starting to restrict sales to anyone under 21. Last we checked a person reaches the age of majority at 18. Not that we think anyone 18 should be buying tobacco, but either you are going to recognize someone as an adult, a free individual capable of making their own decisions or you are not. I’m sure the government would be perfectly happy in making all the decisions for everyone, regardless of age.

California, Who Would Have Thought?

There is even one city, Beverly Hills, CA that wants to ban the sale of all tobacco products all together.

If you think it will end there you are nuts. There is even talk now that there will be a complete ban on selling tobacco over the internet. All sales of tobacco might be limited to face to face sales only. This would be a huge blow to the Pipe Smoking Community.

There’s the old saying that goes “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”. Cellaring tobacco has usually been done to age tobacco or to have a small supply on hand. Who ever thought that you might actually have to consider that you might have to stockpile tobacco to last you the remainder of your life? The thought is not as far fetched as you might think.

Even if you don’t horde massive amounts you still must consider the fact that the price of pipe tobacco or cigars might make it cost prohibitive to be able to enjoy your hobby as you would like to. If you don’t believe it will be that hard, or expensive, it still has to be in the back of your mind. The lengths people will go to force you “to do the right thing” should never be underestimated.

How much tobacco should you have set aside? We are going to help figure that out. At least ballpark it for you. This is going to be a lot of numbers, speculating and estimating. There will be a lot of room for error, but hopefully you can take the general information and apply it to your individual situation. It will at least get you started.

Art, our Inspiration

Artie

Artie’s Place, a popular YouTube channel about pipe smoking and life, did a quick study of how much pipe tobacco you would need per year. For his analysis he used a Savinelli 123, series 3 (an average sized pipe). It holds 1.73 grams of tobacco. He then ran the numbers to calculate pipe tobacco usage.

We decided expand his study and to extrapolate the data. We took a Missouri Meerschaum Country Gentleman and packed it with Captain Black Original (trying to use the same tobacco we assumed he used) and got 2.14 grams.

When you look at health studies the numbers they always use are 1 to 3 grams of pipe tobacco per bowl. So we figured we would go with 2 grams/bowl for our study. It is very close to both Art’s and our findings.

We are also too lazy to make a huge spreadsheet and decided to compile the results into groups. This will give you a general idea on how much tobacco you go through over time.

Casual weekend pipe smoker

1 to 5 bowls per week

You would need .3527 oz/wk or about one tin every five weeks. A pound would last you Forty-five weeks, almost one year.

Daily pipe smoker

6 to 12 bowls per week

You would need .8466 oz/wk. You could get away with a tin every two weeks but more like 1 1/2 to be on the save side. 2 3/4 pounds could get you through the whole year.

Serious pipe smoker

13 to 20 bowls per week

Now we are getting into some money. At this level you would be smoking 1.4 oz/wk. So one tin per week. A pound of pipe tobacco would last you just under 3 months.

Choochin’ Machine

More than 21 bowls per week

First, seek help. You and Matches 860 must be secret brothers. You are going through well over a tin a week, possibly much more. To figure out your usage you will have to calculate your own numbers, our calculator doesn’t go that high. For example if you smoke 5 bowls a day you are going through a pound of tobacco in a month and a half. 8 Pounds a year or 85 Tins per year!

We Are All Over The Industry, So You Don’t Have To Be

A couple of years ago we started an internal project here at the Briar Report. We wanted to see how online pipe tobacco retailers compared with each other. One of the data points we track is price. We have a spreadsheet which consists of seven retailers and seventy-five different pipe tobaccos. The tobaccos chosen represent a wide variety, including tins, bulk, pouches, different cuts, and manufacturers. It is intended to be a good cross section of the industry. Obviously, some of the blends have needed to be replaced on our list as they are no longer being made. We track the average price, the percentage a particular retailer is off from that price and how consistent that retailer is with respect to the average. In other words, who has the best prices.

Inside Baseball

Here’s a screen shot showing a portion of the sheet from 2017. I chose this section because most of these blends have been replaced, but it does make you wish you could go back, even just two years.

Briar Report’s Pipe Tobacco Study Project (2017)

For this article, and to give you a little glimpse of how we came to our conclusions, here are a handful of different blends and how the prices have changed over the past two years.

These prices are of May 2019. The increase is over the past two years. Prices are in U.S. dollars.

Captain Black Original 1.5 oz pouch.
Ave. price now is $8.40 ($5.60/0z) an increase of 63 cents (8.10% increase)


C & D Autumn Evening 2 oz Tin
Ave. price now is $10.73 ($5.37/0z) an increase of 69 cents (6.87% increase)


Escudo Navy DeLuxe 1.75 oz Tin
Ave. price now is $13.34 ($7.62/0z) an increase of $1.38 (11.53% increase)


G.L. Pease Gaslight 2 oz Tin
Ave. price now is $11.28 ($5.64/0z) an increase of 17 cents (1.53% increase)


Lane 1-Q 1 oz/bulk
Ave. price now is $2.54 ($2.54/0z) an increase of 7 cents (2.83% increase)


Orlik Golden Sliced 1.75 oz Tin
Ave. price now is $9.72 ($5.55/0z) an increase of $1.21 (14.2% increase)


Peter Stokkeby Luxury Twist Flake 1 oz/bulk
Ave. price now is $3.49 ($3.49/0z) an increase of 20 cents (5.73% increase)


Mac Baren HH Old Dark Fired 1.75 oz Tin
Ave. price now is $11.77 ($6.73/0z) an increase of 93 cents (8.57% increase)

Crunch Time

Actual calculator used to figure out pipe tobacco prices

When you crunch all the numbers you can see how the prices have changed over the study period. This isn’t an extensive study, but like I said, the results are obtained by tracking dozens of blends across the board.

Right now, if you were to go on a shopping spree, how much would you expect to spend? Using our ranges from above, lets take a look

Casual Weekend Smoker: Expect to spend $102 for every year’s worth of tobacco you want to cellar

Daily Pipe Smoker: Your costs are almost two and a half times higher. It would cost you aprox. $246 per year of tobacco.

Serious Pipe Smoker: $407 per year. That’s actually not bad. Not many things you can enjoy this much for a comparable price. It’s actually a bargain.

Choochin’ Machine: You pick up where the last group left off. How high, only you know.

Keep in mind the numbers we used are all estimated. If you are at the low end of the ranges we made and you only smoke bulk blends, your cost will be much lower. If you love to buy the latest tobacco, love the higher end blends, etc., that will impact your budget.

May You Live To Be 120

We are not even going to attempt to tell you or recommend how many years you should be saving for. Too many factors, starting with your age. If you don’t think obtaining tobacco in the future will be a problem, then you might not want to save much or any at all. It also depends on the space you have and your budget.

It’s Never Going To Be Any Cheaper

The average price of Pipe Tobacco has gone up 7.98%. That works out to be about 66 cents per ounce.

The Cumulative rate of inflation over the same period has been 4.3%. Source: www.bls.gov

The increase in the price of tobacco is outpacing that of inflation by 3.68%

It would be safe to say that this could be considered the baseline as far as what to expect for price increases. As the government cracks down on tobacco and fears grow, production slows, etc. the costs will only increase at a faster pace.

How prices would be effected if there were no internet sales. That is a hard question to answer. Of course it would be the driving force in a person’s decision to begin cellaring in larger quantities than they are used to. If you could only buy from a local dealer, you would have to look at their prices. That is if you have a local dealer. It’s safe to assume that it would only put more upward pressure on prices.

Death & Taxes

Buying only local you would have to factor State Tax in as well. If you live in a State like Oklahoma with only a 1.2% tax you have nothing to worry about. But what if you live in Washington State with a 95% tax? That is a much harder nut to crack [pun intended].

If you want to see how your State stacks up on tobacco taxes I suggest you go to Voodoo Review where he has listed all the information you will need. Here is a link to this years State Tax table. If you’re reading this in the future and want updated information, check in with Voodoo Review as he publishes an updated list at the beginning of the year. A great source of information.

Not to pile on, but you also have local taxes to worry about. It never ends.

Other Factors

You may not want to spend all of your tobacco budget on the cellar. Most of us like to try new blends, or new to us at least. It’s fun to watch or read reviews and decide you may like to give a certain tobacco a try. Leaving aside some money to be able to do this will keep the hobby fresh for you. Plus you never know, unless you’ve had every blend out there, you may find something that you fall in love with. New blends may be fewer and further between, but you never know.

Lots of people like the buy one, save one approach. Getting extra on their order and saving it. This is how the Briar Report Cellar was built. It’s a great way to stock a cellar. But if you are afraid that buying tobacco won’t be as easy as it has been in the past you should seriously consider buying more for the cellar than you are used to. It all depends on your budget and what you personally think the future holds.

Tips to save money.

The price of pipe tobacco may increase more than the rate of inflation, but a well timed sale can quickly negate that. Online retailers often have sales in the 15% range. They have buy one (or two or three) and get one sales They also have deals like buying a pipe and getting a tin of tobacco along with it. That might go away in the future, but for now it’s a way to get a little extra.

Bulk buying is the cheapest and fastest way to go. If you noticed from our study the bulk prices are by far the lowest. Compare a pound of Lane 1-Q bought in bulk vs. Eight 2 oz. tins of C & D Autumn Evening. The price is half.

Trading with other pipe smokers is a way to clean out what you may not like and replace it with what you do. Be open to new ways of stocking your cellar.

What to do if you live in Canada or another country that has already made it hard to establish a respectable cellar. There isn’t much I can share on the subject. You are in a terrible position and for no real reason other than big government with their boot on your neck.

There are some Mail forwarding services and it would be up to you if that is worth it to you or not.

Finally

Hope this at least gets you thinking. We have a feeling that ten years from now, no matter how much you have put aside you are going to wish you had more. It’s a terrible position pipe smokers have been put in, but you really need to decide if hedging against an increasingly hostile government when it comes to tobacco is right for you.

Thank you for reading. Please tell your friends about the Briar Report News site, the premier source of pipe smoking news and information, and the Briar Report Magazine.