Tobacco is a legal substance that is consumed by billions of people in the form of cigarettes, cigars, and pipe smoking. As such, retailers all around the world sell some type of tobacco in their establishments. Drugstore tobacco is pipe tobacco that is sold by mainstream retailers such as Walgreens and Wal-Mart.
In general, pipe tobacco should be purchased from a tobacconist. There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that the quality is much better at these specialty stores. Drugstore tobacco is typically manufactured using lower quality tobacco and contains preservatives and other chemicals designed to enhance the taste and keep it artificially fresh. Though they sometimes cost less than tobacco sold at a tobacconist, most of the time the blends produce inferior smoking experiences.
On the other hand, tobacco at specialty smoking shops comes from manufacturers that use high-quality ingredients in their products. The tobacconist also stores the tobacco properly, so no artificial preservatives are required to keep it fresh and tasting good. In fact, certain types of tobacco will age well if stored in an unopened tin in a cool dark area.
There are a couple of other issues with drugstore tobacco that should make pipe smokers think twice about spending their hard-earned money on them. Tobacco sold in mainstream retailers tends to have higher moisture content due to the extra chemicals mixed in the blend. This can significantly affect the smoking experience, particularly if the person is not used to smoking moist tobacco.
There is also the risk that the extraneous chemicals will sour the pipe. The bowl and the stem absorb the moisture and disperse the heat from the tobacco. The preservatives and flavor-enhancing chemicals can also be absorbed and ruin the taste of future bowls. Depending on the blend used, it can take several cleanings and tobacco smoking sessions to get rid of any residual drugstore tobacco “flavor”.
For a superior smoking experience, it is better to stick with good quality tobacco purchased from a tobacconist. Tobaccos purchased from these specialty shops are fresh (or well-aged) and chemical free. In addition to ensuring a great smoking experience, the tobacco can be saved and aged for a few years to produce an even better-tasting experience down the road.
If no tobacconist is available in the local area, don’t be afraid to order from online sources. Online retailers will provide the same high-quality products with the added benefit of front-door shipping.