According to Tom Robbins
"Three of the four elements
are shared by all creatures, but fire
was a gift
alone. Smoking cigarettes
is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excrutiation. Every smoker
is an embodiment
, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power
of the sun
, to pacify Hell
, to identify with the primordial spark
, to feed on the marrow
of the volcano
. It's not the tobacco
we're after but the fire
. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance
, a ritual
as ancient as lightning
." Still Life With Woodpecker
Also, cigarettes serve as effective punctuation in several ways. A cigarette can be...
...a period: "I'll go right after this cigarette . . .".
...a <p>: A cigarette break during a long day at work does wonders for clearing the mind of frustration, confusion, etc; it gives you breathing room (pun very much intended). Cigarettes are particularly effective to this end, because to take a cigarette break, one usually has to go somewhere other than where s/he is working. This is a good thing.
...a comma or semicolon: When telling a story, a drag off a cigarette tends to fit perfectly into the pause that goes with a comma or semicolon.
...a tilda: Well, maybe this one's a bit of a stretch, but ~'s do look like smoke. heh heh heh.