In truth, I like the idea of cigarettes much more than I like a cigarette in itself.
Cigarettes make my throat and head hurt. If I smoke too much in one day, I will wake up in the morning with a headache, sneezing ridiculously. It leaves a nasty coat of flem in throat and lungs and I can't sing. When I think of what smoking is, inhaling little particles of ash into my body, it grosses me out. When I think of my heightened potential for cancer because of smoking, it scares me a bit.
I imagine myself in the future as a leathery old woman with trashy bleach-blonde hair, long fingernails painted scarlet with a deep scratchy voice and a cigarette in my right hand. I'm browsing the internet or maybe reading a book.
Cigarettes are good in the moment. I like the fuzziness it leaves in my head, where I feel like I'm floating, and I relax. (Though if I get too light-headed, I get nauseous).
However, the reason I add cigarettes into my writing is because, in certain contexts, I think that they have a wonderful aesthetic quality to them.
They symbolize a multitude of things: loneliness, dependence, apathy, a free-spirit, good conversations, good reads, good music, stress, rebellion, boredom...This is a short list; you can add more of your associations in a comment.
Cigarettes can potentially make any dull scene more interesting. You see a bunch of hip kids sitting on a wall by a sidewalk, neither speaking nor moving.
You add a cigarettes to them, and suddenly there's a story there. They aren't just waiting around doing nothing, or maybe they are. Maybe they're a bunch of rebellious teenagers ditching school. Maybe they are such good friends that they don't need to talk; they just know each other so well. Maybe they are angry about something and they needed cigarettes to relieve their stress. Maybe from where you're standing you can't see the ear-buds blasting music into their ears.
The point is, the cigarettes make the story worthier of another's attention.
Even in regular life, this could be true. If I were one of the kids on the wall, I would want a cigarette too.
Now besides the aesthetic quality smoking makes things more interesting because it is a form of consumption. When people are together socially, they nearly always are either engaged in an activity, or they are consuming something: food, coffee, tea, beer or a cigarette.
So, smoking is not good for me, yet I write about it or do it for aesthetic purposes, and to have something to do when I'm sitting on a sidewalk looking like a hip kid.