I'm bothered when I hear someone deprecate a smoker, perhaps standing beside the door of an office building in a sleet storm, puffing away madly. Reformed smokers (such as me) are often the worst critics, asking with a smug self-righteousness just what it will take to convince the sad sack to finally quit.
Certainly high prices (you think gas has gone up? Look at cigarettes), smoking area restrictions and public scorn don't outweigh nicotine addiction for many. Why is it we don't sympathize with those unable to evade the drug's powerful clutches?
With smokes running $4.50 a pack in many places, a two-pack-a-day smoker (note: most smokers understate the amount they smoke) has a $56 a week, $2,912 a year monkey on his/her back. If the smoker were to quit and put the same amount in savings, in 30 years he/she could accumulate $168,761.82 before taxes. Quitting would also open more job opportunities, as some companies are unwilling to hire what they perceive (wrongly) employees who would incur more health plan charges.
What many younger people fail to understand is just how thoroughly we were brainwashed in the 50's and 60's about the benefits of smoking; relaxation, sophistication, sexiness. There was no depth to which the companies would not stoop, from coupons redeemable for gifts (and no, the rumor that an iron lung was one of the gifts was not true) to contests with magnificent prices, to coerce us to smoke.
The Marlboro Man and various celebrities pitched the cancer sticks like they were love and success wrapped in paper. Advertising works, and with the best and brightest minds dedicated to putting a Lucky in our lungs, I think its sad that we disdain those who fell for it. They deserve our sympathy.
I can't think of a better example of tobacco's determination to plant the smoking seed in even the youngest viewer than this ad from the stone age of television.