My dad quit smoking in 2007, after a bout of pneumonia landed him in the hospital for three days. It was a strange thing to see him there, looking small and frail in the ill-fitting blue gown they had given him. He had always seemed like a superhero to me.

The doctors said he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an all-too-common consequence of lifelong smoking. When he got that bit of bad news, my dad--who had been a pack-a-day smoker for half a century--called himself stupid for ever taking up the habit. It was the first time I'd ever heard him say something like that without joking.

But he isn't stupid. He's one of the smartest people I've ever known. Addiction isn't about intelligence. He was just young, and everyone he knew smoked. And smoking seemed so cool, so grown-up.

It seemed that way to me too, in my childhood memories of him. I remember the way he would light up, the way he held a cigarette like the tough guys do in the movies, the way he could flick a butt with pinpoint accuracy.

But we're both older now, and we both know better.
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