I recognize that there are many psychological factors involved, and I think that part of the reason cigarettes are so difficult is the combination of the chemical addiction and the nail-biting-like habitual behavior.
[...leaning back on couch...]
Of course, there's the compulsive aspect from the fact that I used to steal them from my mother and father. And in school, all the cool kids smoked, including the cool chicks. And then as a young adult, all the times I didn't have enough money for cigarettes, then when I got paid -- WOW that cigarette was great.
[...stretch ... thoughtful pause ...]
Y'know Marlboro was my brand for close to 20 years ... I was always secretly enamoured of the "Marlboro Country" ads. Wide open spaces. The Rockies. Freedom. Like a dream of a far-away freedom that couldn't ever be real for me, but I could stare at some of those ads and just daydream. Cowboys. It wasn't that I wanted to be a cowboy, just that I wanted to be where they were in those pictures.
When I was 7 or 8, I remember we had about 100 posters of different paintings, some deal my parents got or something, and they were all rolled up together. I went through them to pick some for my room. I gravitated to big landscapes and cowboy scenes. I remember one of my favorites was a night-time cowboy campfire scene. The cool thing about it was the lighting. All midnight blue with the glow of the campfire in the middle, and one of the prominent things in the scene was one of the cowboys lighting his cigarette. The light from it lit up his face and hand in a warm, magical glow.
Around that same time, my father had a study in the basement level of our split-level. There were two small windows high up in the room. As he sat in his recliner, reading and puffing absent-mindedly on his pipe, rays of daylight would stream into the room from the windows, creating columns of illumination through which rich swirls of smoke would drift slowly, languidly. The puffs and swirls seemed to exist only while touched by the twin streams of light through the narrow windows. If we were quiet, and didn't disturb his reading, we were allowed to sit on the floor and watch, while jazz played quietly on the stereo.
He eventually quit, but my sister and I still smoke. And both of us have tried to quit. Interestingly, my younger brother smoked and quit. Both my dad and him began their smoking in college. My sister and I started(in earnest) when we were fourteen. I have observed this pattern in others as well -- that those who start earlier seem to struggle, while those who start later tend to be more able to take-or-leave them. I think during adolescence your brain chemistry is more adaptable, and that you can develop a stronger dependence on the substance if you smoke through adolescence than if you smoke the same amount time as an adult.
I know that I can let them go, but it does seem to be an ordeal.