Yes, we all “know” that smoking causes death, that it contributes to more illness-related deaths than anything else we choose to do, that it also degrades the quality of life of those that are addicted.
Marketers know (and always knew) that the combination of its addictive properties and the young age at which people choose to smoke make it a home run in the ROI department.
And yet, deep down, all of us “know” that it’s cool.
How did it get cool? Why do intelligent adults imagine that artfully lighting a cigarette is more James Bond than bowery bum? That puffing is more Marlene Dietrich than emphysema victim?
Because cigarette marketers were genius storytellers. Of course they lied to us. They told us a story we wanted to believe, a story about the wild west and freedom and sexuality and youth and hipness.
This was an astonishingly expensive story to tell, I grant you that. But once told, the meme entered our vocabulary and it’s going to be around for generations.
As you can see, this lying thing is a double-edged sword. More on that soon.