The ashtray is one of the unsung heroes of the smoking world. Typically made of some heat resistant material like glass, thick plastic, pottery, metal or rock, the ashtray has the lowly thankless job of holding a cigar or cigarette when the smoker finds something more important to do with his hands, like play a hand at cards or shoot some pool.
They also of course keep ash, and discarded butts. But when done right an ashtray can be a great piece in any smokers smoking accessory collection. Because they sit on a table top or desk top, an ashtray can be embraced as a piece of smoking furniture akin to a humidor or pipe rack.
Status of the Ashtray Industry
It has been hard times for the ashtray business of late. With the rise of public smoking bans and general frowning upon the smoking culture, ashtrays are not in high demand.
Even most car manufacturers in America are no longer putting an ashtray in new cars. Most every car ashtray today is an after market product that is usually fitted to the car’s cup holder. Most ashtray manufacturers have had to lean up and focus solely on the more glamorous corners of the smoking world.
Most of this shift has taken the ashtray manufacturers to the doorstep of the cigar smoking community. One of the only remaining public places one can smoke is the cigar bar, or local cigar store.
Such stores often sport great ashtray pieces. The other remaining ashtray customers are the cigar smokers who scoff at the government’s attempt to limit their right to smoke freely and maintain a healthy smoking environment in their home.
These enthusiasts embrace all things luxurious and status oriented when it comes to their smoking experience. This of course includes their choice of ashtray. The respect of the cigar smoking experience requires that the smoker never belittles his cigar by setting it down in anything less than the best the ashtray industry has to offer.
There are some great selections of antique ashtray pieces available on the secondary market these days. The foreign ashtray market is still in full swing as many European and second and third world countries are more tied to the smoking culture than we are here in America.
The one other remaining bastion of the ashtray industry is the outdoor ashtray. The outdoor ashtray designs have been innovated to minimize smoke escape and odor. The ashtray manufacturers also try to make the outdoor ashtray a visually under the radar type of design.