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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Heaven is a full pipe

This piece of mine appears in today's Times.

Not everywhere has cast smokers into an al fresco wilderness. Not only is Poland still wreathed in blue fumes, but its young women are championing a surprising new trend – pipe smoking.

In the last Pipe Smoking World Championships, Poland was responsible for 135 of the 328 participants. Danuta Pytel, leader of the Polish women’s team, kept her pipe going with one light for 3hrs 8min 9sec, a world record.

Among the new generation of enthusiastic Polish pipe smokers is 24-year-old Karolina Wentland, from Poznan. “I always took pleasure in smoking cigars,” she says. “I smoked cigarettes from time to time but wasn’t addicted. I loved the smell of pipe tobacco and a friend of mine, a member of a pipe club, suggested that I take part in a competition to show me the ‘big world’ of pipe smoking.” Karolina, who favours briar pipes and usually smokes Virginia or Cavendish, adds: “There is a feeling of peace and wholeness that comes to you when you are smoking a pipe.”

With smoking bans threatened in more and more countries, pipe-smoking contests are increasingly under threat. “Poland is a smokers’ paradise, but for how long, I don’t know,” Karolina says.

UPDATE: The print copy of today's Times has a photograph of a famous lady pipe smoker next to the piece. If you've got a copy of the paper, do you know who it is?
Ten brownie points for the first person who identifies her.(Here's a clue:
she's an American with the same surname as a former England footballer...)

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