Recession Culture: And Bring My Slippers, Too

smokingPhoto: orangeacid

If cigars were the big-money-culture item of the booming 1990’s, and ever-larger S.U.V.’s and McMansions were the status symbols of the mid-2000’s, maybe it makes sense that we’re wrapping ourselves in Snuggies as the recession sets in.

What else symbolizes our new austerity? Apparently, tobacco pipes.

The Wall Street Journal reports that pipe smoking is on the rebound, especially among younger people:

“Cigars said, ‘I’ve made it,'” Mr. Shindler says. “It was a form of reward for yourself. When Wall Street crashed, people backed off from that.” Pipe smoking, he says, has a more calming effect. “It’s a comfortable aroma. It reminds you of grandpa. People are looking for that kind of comfort.”

Snuggies are one thing. Now, tobacco pipes for young people as a cheaper and more ruminative (though definitely not safer) alternative to cigars and cigarettes? What’s next, single guys with cats?


Wait a minute! I'm a single guy with cats.....

Although I'd never consider stuffing one of mine inside a bong. They're alley cats, the guy's breed.


The only people I've ever known to smoke a pipe were doing it either ironically, jokingly, or both. I suspect this has little to do with the recession and everything to do with hipster fashion.


For me and my buddies who are commission based, we have turned back to playing video games instead of going out to drink and play pool.... Nothing like an unemployed man staying home to get his video game on.


Actually, smoking a pipe is safer than smoking cigarettes in terms of life expectancy:

Cigars and Pipe smoke, while quite bad for your periodontal health, are not associated with as high incidences of pulmonary disease as cigarette smoke, and, therefore (as the lungs are what will get you, more chances than not), decreased mortality.


Two Snuggie posts in a week? What's this blog coming to?


I am not a smoker of anything, but I am with Kate that pipe smoking is indeed safer than cigarettes. My understanding is that lives are probably being lost due to the general unwillingness of people to acknowledge these risk differences, esp. with snuff ("they are all dangerous..").


a modern-day resurgence in pipe smoking - at least among the young - may well be rooted in a leisurely, ruminative tip-o-the-hat to bygone formality, but the practice reeks of hipster sheik. one simply asks oneself "i know i will spend most of this evening standing around smoking on someone's balcony, and then afterwards, in someone's all night diner, so how to do it in a way that best establishes and illustrates my quirk and keen sense of the absurd - other than my over-the-top moustachio?"


pardon my use of sheik instead of chic. ha! too much of the pipe, i suppose (whimsical laugh).


What really interested me was your conclusion pipe smoking = Snuggies, I really don't see this connection.
I always got the impression there were two types of young pipe smokers nowadays, the "outdoor and adventure" type
and the "thinker" type (very easy to distinguish by beard and pipe ;- ) )
And since pipe smoking did have its comeback for some years now, I don't think it's a reaction to recession, but just another way for young people to be different from our parents generation.

Oh and pipe smoking isn't as cheap as you think, because buying pipes seems to be rather addictive and not inexpensive at all.


I hate snuggies! They're just backwards robes! Kudos to the guy/girl who's making all the money off them though...


This is a fantastic insight! With a recession culture, we're all looking for a little comfort, a little refuge from the storm.

I think the culture extends though. I often wonder what topics we're displacing in the national conversation because we're so busy talking about the latest indicators, or asking our friends if they're jobs are safe as opposed to how their family is doing....

there's a post up on this topic over at economixt -


Great, another sign that people haven't learned the dangers of tobacco. I guess those health care payments will keep on rising...

Fred Thompson

To say pipe or cigar smoking is safer than cigarette smoking is quite misleading. Life expectancy among pipe smokers who have never smoked cigarettes and who do not inhale is somewhat higher than average, despite elevated risk of cancer and perhaps heart disease. The hazards of pipe smoking without inhaling are comparable to exposure to second hand smoke. However, pipe and cigar smokers who inhale are at even greater risk than cigarette smokers.

Pipe smokers who do not inhale are not generally physically addicted to tobacco. Consequently, the anti-smoking campaign has almost wiped them out. Once upon a time, one in five American men smoked a pipe. Ninety-five percent of those who smoked pipes but never smoked cigarettes have quit. This is a very large behavioral response, but one that has probably produced relatively small health effects.


In talking about grandfathers, comfort, and hipster affectation, everyone is missing the blindingly obvious here - pipe smoking is simply the cheapest of all the nicotine delivery systems available.

$50 worth of shag can last the two pipe a day smoker for up to three months. Cigars and cigarettes can't compete with that.

Freakanomics uncovers yet another example of people trying to spend less during a recession! Is this what we mean by the "hidden side of everything"?


After Obama's cigarette tax hike the first thing I did was order tobacco seeds off the internet, I was intending on going Galt and growing my own little tobacco Gulch, but the next thing I did was make a trip to my local tobacconist. They informed me that it was not possible to grow quality tobacco here, and introduced me to the idea of smoking a pipe. For the cost of 1 pack of Marlboros I can buy enough pipe tobacco to last a week.

Still feel like a goofball smoking a pipe in public, but am perfectly comfortable smoking a pipe on my commute and at home in my free time. I'll still buy the Marlboros for those times I need quick smoke, but am seriously giving thought to buying one of those e-cigarettes which deliver nicotine absurdly cheap, with none of the smell or side effects of any smoking medium.

I love smoking, I love tobacco and refuse to allow the government to pin me into a corner on this one, but just wait for the really clever guys to come into the tobacco game. How many homeowners in suburban tobacco country could plow under their yards to grow tobacco to be sold to illicit cigarette factories, what about the good-ole boys up in the hills who used to listen to grandpa's moonshining stories. What about the Mexicans who can buy smokes for $1-$2 dollars a pack and simply walk them across, or the Chinese tobacco companies who could just load up a mislabeled shipping container. I do not think for a second that the mafia is not licking their chops over these new tobacco taxes. I wish I were more organized and more inclined to crime, I bet I could make out like a bandit!