Why does smoking look so freakin' cool?

I am a non-smoker, always have been. Aside from the health consequences and cost, I am also greatly turned off by dirty ashtrays, yellow fingers, and smoker’s breath.


I often find myself - typically when watching a movie - idly wishing I were a smoker so I could do all the cool smoker’s moves: shaking a cigarette out of a pack and placing it between my lips, bending over and shielding the flame from the wind when lighting up, taking a long drag and exhaling sideways while contemplating a thought, casually flicking the ashes while surveying the scenery, etc. etc.

The realities of smoking suck.

I wish it didn’t look so cool.

Cool, really?

To me it’s about as cool as someone chewing on their fingernails, at least when seen in real life. Movies make everything look cool.

I am a non-smoker and I agree, it can look very cool. The part that never looks cool, to me, is what to do with the butt when there is no receptacle around. Dropping it on the ground is absolutely not cool. Stubbing it out and taking it with you is admirable and responsible, but there is not a coolness about that either. Swallowing it might count if you could do it in an off-hand manner such that nobody can determine where the butt went! Of course you would probably eventually die from swallowing burning chunks of carcinogens.

I think movies make everything look cool, and we’ve been taught for years to regard those particular things as cool. If you’d never seen anyone smoking before, would you still think they looked cool, or would you be confused and alarmed by the person calmly sucking on a burning object?

I think it would be quite interesting actually. Maybe in a few years we’ll be able to do it. Smoking in public is now pretty rare in some areas, so maybe we’ll get some kids getting to age 8 or so without ever seeing someone smoke. My little girl was about 4-5 when she first saw someone smoking, and she was totally confused by it.

When I was a smoker, I’d knock the cherry off and put the butt in a little mint box carried for that purpose until it could be disposed of properly. Still didn’t look “cool,” but then I never kidded myself that I looked like Humphrey Bogart while I was smoking, either. Sometimes you have to be content with managing to avoid looking like a jerk.

Piffle. You just flick it straight into McManus’ yappy face, pegging him in the eye. One of the coolest moves ever.

How could smoking ever look cool? It looks down tight stupid. When it’s an old movie you can at least imagine the era and accept it somewhat. But if it’s current reality you have to wonder about the intelligence of the person smoking. They are generally of a lower class and education. I immediately deduct 15 IQ points from my estimation of the individual to start with. The character of a smoker is also questionable. First, they must have mental problems in not being able to control what they do. They have addictive personalities. And secondly, they don’t care about their associates or public health either. They often smoke near their own children. I see nothing cool in the least.

'Cause they’re rebels. Rebels are cool.

It’s nice to see that Al Bundy has absolutely no vices or bad habits. Good for him.


I’d say something, but I’m too stupid, mentally ill, uneducated, and from too low a class; and my character is questionable.

It was considered cool decades ago. Smoking was a rite of passage into adulthood. It was not considered rebellious then, it was a part of everyday life: if anything, smoking was highly conventional. In boarding schools I attended, girls practised how to smoke like movie stars, in front of mirrors, using pencils as props.

For people who smoked at a very young age (like my husband who started at age 12), it could be rebellious.

I never smoked, and I remember being told that I looked like a baby without a cigarette. However, I saw my mother (a 3-pack-a-day smoker) looking everywhere for extra pennies in order to feed her habit. We saw her buy smokes before food and before paying bills. We didn`t know about addiction back then, but my brothers and sisters all saw that there was something wrong with smoking.

I doubt smoking still looks cool to anyone in real life.

It so totally does. I have a few theories:

  1. We can’t smell it. And when they kiss on screen, we don’t taste it. For non-smokers, this is a huge factor.

  2. An overwhelming amount of people smoking on camera are attractive. Even the fat guys in the movies are TV fat, not Walmart fat.

  3. They’re doing something confident and practiced with their hands that involves fire. And they’re breathing smoke. Plus, smoke photographs beautifully.

  4. Again with the hands. It’s automatically an intimate level of detail. American actors don’t have a lot to do with their hands, unless they wanna look like they’re doing a bad Italian impression.
    Yes, cigarettes are remarkably bad for people, but I won’t deny how cool they look. I’ve got dead family members whose demise was clearly quickened if not caused by cigs, but I’m not going to drag that baggage with me so much so that I can’t stand to hear anything positive about smoking.

I love the smell, though. I follow people on the street whose clothes smell like smoke, especially on a chilly day. I also used to love it in college when I’d been to a party and the next day my jacket smelled like smoke.

One morning I woke up and felt around sleepily on my nightstand for my cigarettes, as if that was of course what I do first thing in the morning. Then I woke up enough to remember that I was not, and had never been, a smoker. Odd. I don’t want to ever experiment with smoking because something inside me loves it way too much.

Maybe you started off higher to begin with so deducting 15 still leaves you with something.

It doesn’t. Not even in movies. Looks just as dumb as it does in real life, imo.


Because the tobacco companies have spent decades and huge amounts of money on making us associate smoking with “cool”. There’s even a cigarette brand named

That’s why, in public, I flick the butt straight down so it “thwacks” and the cherry and the butt separate cleanly. Took years of practice and looks incredibly cool.

Been to a nightclub lately? There are still a lot of people who only smoke when they drink.

A big part of it is that in the movies it’s being done by a cool person in a cool situation. And they often add mannerisms that we like. Like others have said, it’s something to do with the hands and can be use to establish character. The way that Travolta flicked away his butt in **Broken Arrow **springs to mind. It was assholish in it’s uncaring attitude. Smoking is a way to emote on screen and since so many characters onscreen are cool they project it through their smoking habits.

Is that guy supposed to look cool or pretentious?

Here’s a trick to reduce the likelyhood a kid will grow up to smoke:
When I was 7, I asked my father to take a puff off his cigarette. He agreed but said I had to smoke a whole cigarette. At first, it wasn’t so bad but then it got quite unpleasant and I got nauseous. He forced me to smoke the whole thing despite my pleading repeatedly to stop.

It wasn’t any fun but it killed any chance I had to become a smoker. It also made pot smoking less attractive as that’s harsh on the throat if you’re not used to smoking.

Now, to me, smoking doesn’t look cool. Rather it looks like a pathetic attempt to look cool. I’m not attracted to someone with a burning cylinder hanging out of their mouth - quite the opposite. And in general, all the associated actions involved with smoking are at the very least, annoying - flicking ashes around, exhaling smoke, filthy ashtrays, stinking clothes and breath.

Each to his own, I guess…