I stopped smoking at age 27, after having smoked a pack-a-day or more for more than ten years, and it was both the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and the best health decision I’ve ever made. Had I continued at that pace, I’d probably be dead.
But everybody smoked back then. Even the “Doctors” who promoted smoking in ads smoked. Even Joe DiMaggio smoked, or at least made you think he did in the cigarette ads he was handsomely paid to do. You were kind of weird if you didn’t smoke.
And I tried to stop many times, unsuccessfully, until one cold evening in the Fall of 1970, walking home from work along Charles Street on Beacon Hill, then turning up Revere Street, and discovering that I couldn’t walk up the hill. I was gasping for breath.
So I stopped smoking, even though the temptation was always there for several months until, finally, the smell of cigarette smoke became unpleasant, and I knew I had stopped for good.
Still, when I look at ads like this one, I understand how much all the little social rituals around smoking influenced so many to start, and, with the nicotine, made it so hard for them to stop.