You've seen it more times than you probably realize: singers smoking on stage, singers on the cover of magazines holding cigarettes. Sometimes singers get really creative and stash their lit smoke up by the pegs of their guitar.
A lot of fans seem to think this is cool. They'll even cheer when the singer lights up between songs.
The fans should be the last ones cheering this habit. Smoking wrecks your voice. The same fan who cheers that lit Marlboro will then throw a tantrum when they find out their favorite singer periodically lip syncs. "What, you mean I paid good money and this guy's not even really singing?!"
Well, maybe he could have hit the high notes every night if he hadn't been lighting up during each guitar solo. Instead of cheering his tobacco addiction, you should have booed and shamed him into quitting. Maybe then his voice wouldn't have given out 16 concerts into a 30 concert tour.
Cheering a singer who smokes is like cheering a quarterback who thumb wrestles middle linemen with his throwing hand. If you saw Joe Flacco on the sidelines getting his thumb bent down like a cheerleader after a Super Bowl win, you wouldn't cheer...you'd pawn that #5 jersey in disgust. Is it any wonder that athletes often have stipulations in their contracts barring them from certain risky activities?
Why do singers today still flaunt their smoking? They seem to think this puts them in step with all the old smoking greats they pretend to like: Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson.
It's true that in the old days singers like Howlin' Wolf smoked. You know who else smoked back then? EVERY HEART SURGEON IN AMERICA. Everyone used to be a smoker. The Surgeon General walked around with a Chesterfield in one hand and a hookah in the other. The hazards weren't fully known yet.
Sometimes musicians (and critics) laud cigarette scarred voices. They act like smoking can turn a whiny tenor into a lady killing baritone. 'Fraid not. A chain smoking tenor doesn't get velvety pipes; he gets a voice that sounds like a tenor struggling for breath. Tom Waits sings like a dying bullfrog screaming into a toilet paper tube.
It may have looked cool when Bob Dylan and Jim Morrison smoked...until you remember that they were both notoriously horrible live singers. A smokey voice is a figure of speech, not a recommendation.