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Piping Up

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Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Cigars aren't the only flame in town for tobacco enthusiasts. Perhaps as a way to sneak tweed back into fashion, folks are beginning to take a greater interest in pipes these days. Indeed, if the smoke signals are to be believed, pipes are downright trendy.

Not that it's all that easy to pinpoint the number of pipe smokers. According to 1994 figures--the most recent available--from the Pipe Tobacco Council, roughly 3 million smokers are in the pipeline. Pipe smokers tend to be married white males with some college background. And even though approximately half the pipe smokers are 46-plus years old, there's reason to suspect the current cachet of cigars could puff up the popularity of pipes among younger folks.

"As more young professionals go into tobacco shops to purchase cigars, they're being exposed to aromas of pipe tobacco," says the Pipe Tobacco Council's Norman Sharp.

One potential fire-stopper: Pipes aren't easy to smoke. "You have to break in the pipe," says Sharp. "You have to pack it. And then you have to light it a couple times before it takes."

Taking this into account, it's no surprise to learn pipe smokers are generally a methodical bunch. As for wearing tweed--well, that's entirely optional.

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This article was originally published in the May 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Piping Up.

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