I have conquered booze and drugs - the industrial grade, not just dream weed - but nicotine is the strongest addiction that I have experienced. I struggle with it still. Put 'em down and walk away, but somehow drawn in again. It only takes one puff.
The drug can be lethal. Extract the nicotine from one cigarette and inject it intravenously and death will occur. It is still socially acceptable despite the Big Brother regulations. Look outside office buildings and see the smokers huddled and puffing furtively, like we used to do in high school, sneak out behind the gym and pass a couple Pall Malls around.
Was until recently, maybe still is used as currency in jails. It is heavily taxed, one of the "sin taxes" levied on the poor. Folks with wretched existences, few pleasures beyond some plonk and a pack of butts.
Medically harmful, no doubt about it. I used to work in industries back in the day, they flung asbestos and solvents and other skull & crossbones materials around like popcorn and that stuff was lethal too. Nobody knew nor cared.
Keep in mind that the tobacco industry is still powerful.
Most people don't know is that each time they buy Post Grape Nuts, they're supporting Philip Morris, one of the largest tobacco companies in the country.
Cigarette companies aren't stupid. As America learns to kick the habit, they've moved to diversify. Food and alcohol aside, Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Field's, Ivey's, Peoples Drug stores, Swingline staplers, Jergens lotion, Loews hotels and theaters, Regal china, Bulova watches, and Yardley cosmetics are just a few of the products or businesses affiliated with the cigarette sellers.
The spate of mergers has turned the large tobacco companies into corporate octopuses. Philip Morris spent over $1.3 billion on advertising in 1986, more than any other company except Procter & Gamble. RJR (R J Reynolds) Nabisco is the fourth biggest spender (Sears is third), with an ad budget just under $1 billion.
With that stupendous size comes undeniable power. It's advertising that supports most magazines, newspapers, television and radio. A magazine that depends on cigarette--or food--ads is going to think twice before running a story on the evils of smoking. Advertising fees buy journalistic complacency.