All right, I may as well bite. In my defence, I'd like to stress that I'm genuinely somewhat hurt by accusations of trolling on the smoking issue. I've lost several relatives over the years to smoking-related illnesses, and while I think smokers should certainly have their say, I'm dismayed at the unpopularity generated by the opposite view.

My rebuttal:

1) A pause is a pause is a pause. It's just as irritating, if you're interested in what's being said, for the sentence to be interrupted by a drag on a gasper as by 'umm', 'like' or 'well'. More so, if, like me, you're asthmatic, and get a faceful of smoke as a consequence.

2) All right, so this point is valid. I use old ball-point pens for the same purpose. We do find it useful to have something to wave, and if a cigarette is handy, it'll do.

3) I'm not alone in not believing in the lure of self-destructive behaviour. In someone who is for some other reason doomed, the tendency to partake of a fine cigar or whatever is fairly harmless. But to suggest that smoking as a means of self-destruction in and of itself is cool-looking is to my mind too self-justifying to satisfy as an explanation. Not everyone looks up to the artificial heroes of Hollywood.

4) I'd prefer, as most people would, to find a form of self-expression which doesn't rot my lungs. Write poetry. Write software. Do something productive instead of something destructive - even if you restrict it to being self-destructive.

5) I'd say rather that smoking sends the message (in general) that the smoker is arrogant enough to consider themself immune to the things that kill others. A healthy instinct for self-preservation seems far more intelligent. After all, we dream of immortality, but cannot achieve it: why compromise your lifespan even more?

6) Defying authority does not thwart it. And in this case, the authorities have your best interests at heart. If they wanted your taxes, they'd promote smoking for all they could, so as to rake in more duty. In fact, people coughing up corroded flesh from their lungs looks bad on a country's health record, so there is an ulterior motive. But don't you wish the state was usually this concerned for your well-being?

And, of course, there is the final, inevitable fact. Smoking kills large numbers of people all the time, mostly slowly and painfully. I know. I've watched it happen. And no matter how often people say 'don't talk to me about the health implications', I want my friends and fellow-humans to live long, happy, fulfilled lives, and dying of lung cancer can very easily preclude that.

People often say 'If God is so good, why doesn't he stop this or that kind of bad thing happening?' Well, I'm not God, and nor are you, but the suffering of lung cancer, heart disease and a range of other conditions can be reduced or avoided by the (relatively) simple expedient of giving up the cancer sticks. You might say I'm interfering: would you rather I encouraged you to harm yourself?