Art vs Censorship: Creating a tobacco pipe?


I’m thinking about my next project. I have been analyzing the market
for artwork and there still seems to be a demand for hand-crafted
personal functional items such as tobacco pipes.

However, it seems that the federal government and all 50 states now
have broad laws on the books that for all practical purposes seem to
forbid the creation or sale of even tobacco pipes due to their
evident misuse by non-tobacco users.

Has anyone ever come up against being unable to produce or sell
functional art due to zealous enforcement of overly broad criminal

And incidently, is there a legal safe harbor for producing and
selling a tobacco pipe explicit meant for use with tobacco?

Just curious,
Andrew Jonathan Fine

I haven’t come up against any agency as per your question. This is
probably because I make one-of-a-kind things. “One” being the
operative word. But from my vast experience talking with vastly
experienced people, metal doesn’t make for a good, smooth smoke for
tobacco. And anything else doesn’t really matter in that regard,
though someone told me a carburetor mellows the harshness, whatever
that means…

is there a legal safe harbor for producing and selling a tobacco
pipe explicit meant for use with tobacco? 


Knives come under restrictions in Australia, within the bounds of
the Prohibited Weapons Act and the Summary Offenses Act.

You cannot sell a knife to someone under the age of 16, you cannot
carry a knife without a good reason (a good reason does not include
self protection).

You can use knives in public places as long as the majority of the
people present do not feel threatened.

Some types of knives are not allowed without a special permit.

In Australia, we can make and sell smoking equipment, however we are
only allowed to smoke legal substances in them,

I can in effect make practically anything for export, as long as
it’s only for export.

Regards Charles A.

If sold for illegal purposes, it is illegal, if sold as a tobacco
pipe, then it is buyer beware…


I can’t resist. I was laughing about this years ago, but the point
is … you are correct in assuming that pipes are a very carefully
inspected item to make and distribute…especially across state and
federal lines.

Look up Tommy Chong (i.e. Cheech and Chong’s Tommy Chong’s ‘Nice

The main issue is distribution. If you are careful, it can be legal.
But, as with Tommy Chong, distribution across state lines, in
particular, is not wise…unless you can prove that nothing except
tobacco can be used in them…or your distribution channels include
ONLY tobacco shops that refuse to sell products that fall under the
suspicious category(ies).

I personally think it a safe option to not manufacture them at
all…but if you do, try only states where such secondary intent
users are quasi-legal (e.g. California).

I am sure there are other ways to market the items, such as
including warnings and stipulations for the buyer and re-seller, that
could make it legal. But, it might still be dealt with as an item
the Federal folks take note of.

Best to seek out and retain quality legal counsel for any such idea
before marketing widely.

That is my $.02.


I am amused that the title of this thread is “‘Art’ vs Censorship”
as many in our field very stubbornly believe that “Art” and artists
have a special claim on freedom that is superior to the pursuit of
more mundane activities. I hate to be a nit-picker, but “censorship”
is also a rather stilted word word, since it correctly applies to
message and communicative content, which is a stretch if the subject
is a functional object. But this definitely is a freedom issue. I
whole-heartedly agree that this is an infringement of your rights.
Beware of activists and grandstanding politicians as this is where
they take us.

An elderly friend of mine who makes children’s toys in his
retirement is intimidated to the point of probably going out of
business because the rules governing testing of paint for lead and
choking parts. Not that anyone is in favor of being careless about
those things, but because strict adherence to the law would cost many
times his gross sales. The outrage over cadmium in jewelry several
months ago led some politicians to propose legislation within hours
of the news cycle, but how many jewelers on this list would welcome
having to prove the negative that their jewelry is free from cadmium
or risk prosecution?

Politics have always been corrupt, but for most of our history in the
US concerns for rights and freedoms, economic and personal, were
given much more weight in arguing for restrictions and prohibitions
“for the common good” We jewelers in the US have been spared many of
the intrusive and meddlesome rules and laws that other trades are
subject to. In many cases we are free to do dumb and dangerous
things that we should probably know better about. But if you try to
prevent those dumb and dangerous things with the law, you are giving
up freedom. Tobacco pipe makers are a very few people, but many
millions are anti-tobacco or anti-drug. It is very easy to let those
few loose their freedom to satisfy the notions of the many. But this
just emboldens the meddlesome control freaks that want to tell us all
how to live our lives and run our businesses.

Stephen Walker

it was like that in russia with the knives, i tried to give a knife i
made to a russian friend who was a proffesional hunter there he could
not accept it because it had no serial number on it, as a hunter
trapper he could only own 7 knives because that was the number of
lines on the registration form, a lot of people use tabaco pipes for
dope, maby all pipes should be registerd with the federal government

Check with some of the Borosilicate “Boro” glass blowers out there.
They would have the answers to your questions.

it seems that the federal government and all 50 states now have
broad laws on the books that for all practical purposes seem to
forbid the creation or sale of even tobacco pipes due to their
evident misuse by non-tobacco users. 

Do you have references? I couldn’t find anything that restricted the
sale of tobacco pipes to adults. Obviously, don’t name it “Andrew’s
Awesome Bong” or even hint that it could be used for illegal

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

a lot of people use tobacco pipes for dope, maybe all pipes should
be registered with the federal government. 

I think George Carlin said it best. When asked bout the dope
problem, he agreed there were too many dopes in this world.

Ray Brown

Paraphernalia laws? Not here in Oregon. At east they are not
enforced. I’m betting it’s the same in California.

Portland Or was declared the #6 destination spot for cannabis world

You can make all the pipes you want here. Just don’t sell them for
tobacco. It’d be considered uncool.

Also don’t make them out of gold and silver. I watched a boss of
mine once burn his lips badly with a jewel encrusted silver and gold
pipe. He forgot how well silver and gold conduct heat. Guess he
shouldn’t have been smoking before he designed and made it.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
PS Of course I would NEVER encourage any kind of illegal activity.

Jo, it must have been the silver that conducted the heat to your
boss’ lips. Gold is a notoriously poor conductor of heat!!

Cheers from Don in SOFL.

Pipe stems, the portion taken between the lips, are rarely made
completely of metal because of the excellent heat transfer. Some pipe
shanks, the portion joining the bowl and stem, may be made of metal
to aid in heat dissipation, but the stem is invariably made of more
benign materials so that the pipe smoker doesn’t burn the lips.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH