Have you ever noticed the majority of characters in fiction novels that smoke? Such a large number! You read a novel, you have a good chance of seeing a main character that smokes. Same goes for movies and TV shows. Such a large number that there must be some reasons for this great number, other than some conspiracy upon the parts of the Cigarette Companies(or the simple idea that characters that smoke look cool, or mean).

I find a couple of theories for why these characters pick up smoking. Most of them are of strong will and could probably stop anytime they wanted.
  • Stress. Nicotine is a relaxant, these characters are under serious stress. Not my favorite theory, but a reasonable one.
  • Self-apathy. A lot of these characters keep on going, because they feel a need to. But death might be a blissful state to them. When they can finally rest.
  • Self-destructive. The life they're living can't last that long. These are usually the younger characters who believe they're going to die before they reach 35, and don't really want to reach it either. So smoking probably isn't going to kill them first. Also contains the older characters who never expected to live this long.
  • Technology/Magic. These would be only characters in sci-fi or fantasy novels. Those characters that no longer have completly human bodies, change bodies, or are immortal. They really have no fear of getting cancer. These people usually also link up with the stress theory.
Let's start with a simple example. Cigarette Smoking Man, or Cancer Man, from X-Files. The majority of people reading this writeup probably know this character. Let's take his past into consideration, Marine training and specifically said that he didn't smoke. That is until he went on to doing the Kennedy Assassination for the military. And his life just kept on getting worse and worse from there.
Theories that fit: Stress, Self-Apathy, Self-Destructive.

Next let's use the Amber Chronicles, by Roger Zelazny, as an example. Corwin(and nearly every other family member) smoke. Corwin is trying to overthrow the throne, and is immortal. He's vastly outnumbered, and has had his eyes gouged out and grew them back.
Theories that fit: Stress, Self-Apathy, Technology/Magic.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a character in Usual Suspects that didn't smoke(Okay, Agent Kujan didn't). Let's take a look at the main people though. Criminals or Cops/Federal. Both have a very good chance of getting a bullet through the head before they even reach 30. Most of the criminals took high-risk jobs. They had about an equal chance of dying in prison as they did of lung cancer.
Theories that fit: Stress, Self-Apathy, Self-Destructive.

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