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AstroChuck's avatar

Why do smokers "tap" their cigarettes?

Asked by AstroChuck (37438points) June 25th, 2008 from iPhone

I see it done all the time but I don’t smoke so I have no clue what they are doing.

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23 Answers

Stocky's avatar

Packing the tobacco so it doesnt fall out of the ends and burns slower.

babygalll's avatar

To settle the tabacco which causes it to burn longer.

El_Cadejo's avatar

burns more evenly as well.

jacksonRice's avatar

do you mean when someone has a new pack, & sort of smacks the top against his/her palms? that’s to pack the tobacco into the cigarette; see stocky & babygalll’s posts.

or do you mean when someone has a lit cigarette, & lightly taps or flicks the end of the cigarette against an ashtray/something else? that’s to make the ash fall off the end so that it doesn’t accidentally fall off in an unwated place; also see uberbatman’s post.

AstroChuck's avatar

I meant the former. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone tap a lit one.
Another thing I see people tap is the top of a soda can before opening it. What’s that about?

babygalll's avatar

Remember shaking the can before giving it to someone? They say it prevents the soda from “explosion”, but it’s not really guaranteed.

Snopes this may help too.

AstroChuck's avatar

Of course. But why the tap?

MercenaryWriter's avatar

Because tapping is scientifically proven to prevent lung cancer.

AstroChuck's avatar

You can get lung cancer from soda?

babygalll's avatar

Tapping the soda or tapping the cigarettes?

ebenezer's avatar

I tap my cigarette pack before I open it so I look like I know what I am doing.

Spargett's avatar

Tapping the top of a soda can is “suppose” to diffuse any carbonation that’s built up. Naturally, it doesn’t really do anything.

Seems like more of habit people pick up and start to reenforce every time they grab a soda. Then they have to rationalize it with misinformation like the former to rationalize, irrational behavior.

And yes, you can get cancer from soda. Allow me to introduce you to a preservative that’s in almost every soda except Diet Rite and Hansens. I bring you Sodium Benzoate.

(make note of the part about how it breaks down into benzene)

MercenaryWriter's avatar

yes, it’s a true, though woefully underpublicized, epidemic. This is why I avoid canned soda—and anytime I feel the urge to pop one open, I patiently smoke Lucky Strikes until the moment of weakness has passed. I’m gonna live forever.

Knotmyday's avatar

My brother, who smokes GNC ultra-lights, taps every pack he buys because his friends told him it “packs the tobacco.”
My mom, who has smoked Marlboro Reds since the ‘60’s, never taps.
For what it’s worth.

ebenezer's avatar

Knotmyday- If this is true, I am going to have to stop tapping based on your testimonial.

seuratguy's avatar

I ran a test. I took two identical cigarettes. I packed one for quite a while (got it to settle between 2 and 3 millimeters below the lip) and left the other alone. I put them on a platform with a book on top and lit them. In the first run, the packed one smoldered for 11 min before getting to the filter. The unpacked took 12 minutes. I had to re-light each twice. In the second run, the packed took 10 min 30 sec and the unpack lasted 10 min 50 sec. So, based on this crude study, the packed ones burn slightly (around 6%) FASTER than the unpacked. This makes sense since the tobacco is more compressed and the heat of the cherry is allowed to “pre-burn” more tobacco. I’d also imagine that the cigarette would taste stronger, not smoother in a packed cigarette since it is denser. My guess is that people tap the packs as a holdover from when cigarettes were hand rolled and more loosely packed which could lead to tobacco falling out. Mainly, people just do it because they think it makes them look cool and sophisticated.

AstroChuck's avatar

Wow! Now that’s dedication to answering the question. Now perhaps it’s time to quit?

arnbev959's avatar

@Astro: You have to word things more carefully. I think seuratguy thought you meant he should quit Fluther! And he did, as soon as you said that.

ShanEnri's avatar

I ‘learned’ to do this from my smoking family. I was told it packs the tobacco in the cigerettes to make them ‘smoke better’. Make of that what you will!

jmm's avatar

@seuratguy – The measurement may be right, but I think your taste assumption is wrong. The “pre-burn” you refer to is the best way to get a good flavor from tobacco. To cite a parallel, look at the lighting ritual of a cigar smoker and you will see they sort of roast the end before getting it to burn. That’s the way to get the best flavor right from the start: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF2ir96lHkU So IMO the people who say it “smokes better” are right.

kritiper's avatar

Packed or not, I have never had a cigarette smoke bad or less than better. I think the idea is total hogwash. If a person would really like the cig to “smoke better,” it wouldn’t get lit with a sulfur match or a smelly lighter. Maybe a bit of clean cedar, like some cigars I’ve smoked.

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