The first time I ever smoked a cigarette, I was in fifth grade, at a sleepover. My friend stole a Marlboro from her mother’s purse and eight of us girls put it up to our lips in her back yard in the middle of the night. By the time I reached high school, some of my friends had already gotten hooked. They showed off by puffing smoke rings and pointing out subliminal pictures hidden on a pack of Camel Lights.
But in recent years, the coolness of smoking has faded away, in one of the most profound cultural changes of our generation. Today, only 19 percent of Americans smoke, compared to 42 percent in 1965, when the surgeon general declared the habit deadly.