Slow lingering death aside, smoking was always associated with cool. Movies were the place that you saw cool characters puffing away, lighting up and exhaling moody swathes of smoke across the screen. I somked myself, between 15-21, initially partly peer pressure partly stupidity but also to try to look a little bit cool. Being smokless myself for decades I still have a smile when I see a movie (particualrly from the golden age) when the lead character pulls out a white cylinder places it at their lips, ignites and draws a breath in, then exhales to fill the screen with the ghost like plumes. Yep, smoking still looks cool.
Shatner & Hepburn