Puff Puff Pass

Informant: My next thing is a tradition.

Interviewer: Sure..

Informant: Ok… so, this is more of a tradition in smoking. I was taught it by my friend, he was taught it by his friend, who was taught it by his friend… that sorta chain goes on and on. Everyone knows it, and if you don’t know it, someone you’re chilling with will know it and tell you.

Interviewer: Cool.

Informant: Yeah.. so, basically, when you’re smoking with your homies, you want to, like, make sure everyone is having a good time, right? Don’t want a smoke hog. So somewhere along the line, probably years and years ago at this point, some dude comes up with this idea,, “Puff puff pass”. Basically, you to take two hits of the “j” or bong or pipe or whatever, and then pass it along. Make sure everyone gets a chance. As soon as someone says puff puff pass, everyone in the circle starts doing it.

Interviewer: What happens when everyone has smoked?

Informant: Keep passing. It goes around and around till it’s done.

Context: My informant is a twenty one year old from a midwestern town bordering a legal marijuana state and an illegal marijuana state. This story was told while sitting around a table in a college dorm common room – my informant sat across from me and told me his story in person.

Background: The informant likes this tradition because it perpetuates a culture of sharing – everyone is taken care of in a smoke circle, to the point where a common tradition has arisen to allow greater sharing within these groups.

Analysis: Puff Puff Pass is a really cool example of the power of oral tradition and community thought. Like my informant described, the tradition arose from those a mutual want within the smoker community for a way to more easily and fairly share smokables amongst themselves. Furthermore, the tradition, like any other piece of folklore, was spread by word of mouth – which is the most impressive part of it to me, as it is a remarkably well recognized custom within the community of smokers. Everyone learns Puff-Puff-Pass from someone else at some point or another.


Annotation: To see another example of Puff-Puff-Pass, see this source:

Crane, Travis. “Puff Puff Pass: The Etiquette of the Smoke Circle.” My 420 Tours, My 420 Tours, 19 Dec. 2017, my420tours.com/puff-puff-pass/.

Though this source doesn’t differ in its interpretation of the puff puff pass tradition, it does stress the importance of equality within the circle – everyone is supposed to smoke an equal amount. Again, it’s really interesting to see how this tradition of parity has become a de facto law within the smoking community.