Tolkien (and his characters), Einstein, Van Cleef, Sherlock, and about a century's worth of cool scientists, writers, and generally awesome dudes.
It must have sunk in when I was a kid that smoking a pipe was cool, so as soon as I got old enough, I did.
Fortunately, I stuck with it long enough that my reason for smoking became honest enjoyment instead of affectation.
Back in my younger days a lot of people smoked pipes. I was surrounded by those wonderful smells wafting through the air from the burning blends of friends, family and total strangers. I thought I would try a pipe to see if I liked it. I did, so here I am all these years later. I don,t regret my decision at all. My pipes have given me much pleasure over the years. There is something soothing and contemplative about a pipe that I can't find in any other way of consuming the tobacco leaf.
Smoked cigars for years. Always saw the cool tobacco filled jars in the shops I’d go to. Wall filled with ornate pipes. Told myself one day I’d try it out. Said that for about 8 years. Then my wife bought me a $50 starter kit from P&C. Like WalkinStick said, expensive decision!
One time in my youth, as a heavy cigarette smoker, I got a nice paycheck and thought, you know, what the hell. I'd never seen the attraction to cigars, but I should celebrate, so let's find out if I like cigars. I went to the nearest Tinderbox, which I already knew because I'd sometimes stop by for import cigarettes. Anyway, I remember exactly what I left with: Flor de Oliva Gold, robusto, which the clerk suggested I start with. Another robusto in apparently a house blend called La Niña (as in the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria), which was slightly heavier and recommended for after the gold. Then also an Independencia Belicoso, Independencia being a line by La Aurora that had recently won some recognitions by some cigar magazine or something. It was a fantastic blend to my recollection, though the Belicoso shape was unreliable. I ended up getting a box of the robustos eventually, but I haven't seen the blend in ages. It was a nice medium bodied smoke with a hint of pepper, and the clerk recommend I try the other two first, though none of them were exactly powerhouses.
Turned out, cigars smell worse than cigarettes (to me, at the time) but actually taste WAY better. I was amazed that I could enjoy smoking even if I wasn't inhaling large doses of nicotine. I weaned myself off of cigarettes with cigars, with an eye to total cessation. But then I encountered a problem: I wanted to quit cigarettes and had long since stopped actually enjoying them, I was just hopelessly addicted to nicotine, and my health was suffering. That's why I wanted to quit. But when I found cigars....why would I want to quit when I actually enjoy it now? Besides, the longer I went without directly inhaling my smoke, the better my lungs started feeling. So....the motivation for quitting were hard to maintain. I was still getting a daily dose of nicotine, but not inhaling, and I liked it way more than cigarettes.
But that raised its own problems. Between a few big tax hikes and garden variety price increases, many brands of premium cigars basically doubled in price in a few short years. Cigars are much nicer than cigarettes...but also much more expensive. By way of example, Punch London Clubs were about $25 a box when I first bought them, now JR sells them for $62 for a box. So I figured a pipe would be worth trying.
For a few years I'd try it on and off but burned the hell out of my mouth constantly. I eventually decided to conquer tongue bite because I didn't want to stop smoking but also didn't want to keep paying ridiculous amounts of money for cigars. Plus the wider variety of pipe tobacco styles than cigar styles was appealing. So I started smoking a pipe regularly in spite of the tongue bite, which lasted quite a while. Finally a few years ago I got to a point where tongue bite became very rare, and even to a point where if faced with a choice between a pipe and a cigar, more often than not I'd prefer the pipe.
And that's why I smoke a pipe. To save money on cigars, originally smoked to get me off cigarettes. Maybe some day I'll quit smoking my pipe. I do think it's less deleterious to my health than cigarettes, but I definitely don't agree with some folks that it's harmless. Still, I am comfortable today with the ratio of risk versus enjoyment, and I have no real plans to quit. I mean heck, if I did I wouldn't have stocked up on so much tobacco.
It was the early 70s. Nixon was in the white house. Times were surreal. Pipes were common. Loved the smell of pipes. Went to cigars in the 80s, then prices went zoomy when the pushback against political correctness took hold and cigar smoking took on a smug defiance and trendiness I wanted no part of. Back to pipes in the 90s.
I've used every form of tobacco available except for dry snuff (which I'm not averse to trying...just hasn't happened yet) since my first "dip" at thirteen years old. I started smoking cigarettes in high school, then went smokeless in college. I was a dipper for years, but in 2000 switched to Camels because I couldn't dip without getting heartburn within minutes.
When I started teaching at a small community college I was "volunteered" to chaperone the twice-yearly dances, and Coach Dan (who was my history teacher when I'd attended the same college earlier in life) always brought two cigars, just in case someone wanted to go out back and avoid responsibility by sitting down for a long smoke - and I found a mentor for tobacco as more than just a nicotine delivery medium. It was Coach that got me interested in pipes, and recommended I get a basket pipe, Captain Black, and a pack of cleaners. It was Coach, too, who led me to the Country Squire, my first introduction to the genuinely magical atmosphere of a real honest-to-goodness tobacconist.
But Camels were quick, easy, and remained my weapon of choice. Eventually I stopped piping completely, until cigarettes took enough of a toll on my health to cause me to look for an alternative.
Vaping got me off cigarettes. I still have the last pack of cigarettes I bought, and those same seven cigarettes have been there for quite awhile. I never "stopped" smoking cigarettes. I just haven't wanted one for a couple of years.
The problem with vaping is that it requires the use of at least one hand; occasionally I want to use both hands to do something besides fondle a box, y'know? My solution was to try piping again, after nearly 15 years away from pipes.
The rest is history.