So does driving a car, or using any other drug. I think getting rid of war and famine leads to more lives saved than banishing smoking. Unfortunately it's all about money. They don't even want everybody to quit.
My first cigarette was about age 6 or 7; my brother and I would steal a pack of cigs from the freezer (my dad bought cigs in bulk) crawl into the hopper of a combine and smoke on the way to school. When it was really, really cold (Livingston MT - this is about 20 below Z), we would smoke in a coal shed near school - this is where we got caught. Dad quit cold turkey, threw out all his cigs and punished us. To this day, if I smell that very first ignition of the cigarette end I am back in the hopper with my brother and I am happy and safe. Both my brother and I went in for tonsilectomies right around that time and we didn't smoke again until much later.
My brother started back up when he was 15; he died of congestive heart failure when he was 44; he was still a smoker. I did not start again until I was 19 and smoked until I was 40 - I suppose I was at about 1-1.5 packs per day often more. My employer paid for a quit smoking plan so I went to Schick Electro-Shock™. They don't actually call it that but they are the old fashioned, negative reinforcement type place. You put the electrodes on your non-dominant wrist and attach a loop to the little finger of your 'smoknig' hand. Everytime you bring the cigarette up to your lips you get a shock; you can adjust the level of shock with a potentiometer - I would max the thing out and watch my hand spasm wildly. The booth was purposefully disgusting, it was never cleaned and all the butts from all the previous smokers were in piles all over the counter; there were nicotine stalactites hanging from the ceiling, thick yellowish stuff on the mirror. I quit; lasted for 3 years then started up again so I went through the program again and have not smoked a cigarette since.
The ex-Mrs. Grim and I would go up to Canada and smuggle 222s and Cuban cigars back - yeah, she smoked them too. Then I caught myself inhaling the cigars like they were cigarettes and stopped that immediately.
I have promised myself that I can start smoking again when I turn 103 (I used to say until I turn 95 but 95 is getting closer, quicker than one could imagine).
Not all is so simple & unambiguously with the smoking.
Medical statistics shows that those who smoke 1-10 cigs per day live longer than abs non-smokers
(I read about this fact in Soviet monthly pop-magazine "Chemistry & Life", of early 1980s).
Not to mention, smokers never catch Parkinson's and Altzheimer's diseases.
One more interesting recent medical observation:
those who in their childhood were always half-hungry (due to poor, unlucky families etc)
they preserve the lucidity of mind till deep old age.
Opposite case with those who were growing without any stresses.
I don't know what you were reading but the tobacco companies fought back against the facts that smoking is bad for you by funding & publishing biased, or misleading science (usually by taking advantage of confounding factors such as socio-economic status).
Here is a nice 50 year study of over 30000 men: http://www.bmj.com/content/328/7455/1519
depending on the age of starting & stopping smoking had anywhere from a minor increase in mortality to a threefold increase.
PS there is growing evidence that many 'modern' diseases are because our bodies are adapted to being sick a lot (leads to auto-immune disease if your not) more and being hungry most of the time (leads to obesity & type 2 diabetes if your not) since that is how we lived for tens of thousands of years before civilization. This is not applicable to stresses due to luxury goods such as tobacco or caffeine.
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