It is not seen as badass lol
Also inhaling burning embers
That's not how smoking works
Back in the day, smoking was totally normal, you could light a smoke damn near anywhere and nobody would bat an eyelid. But it was never considered particularly healthy. My dad is 90, and when he was a kid, a popular nickname for cigarettes was coffin nails. But people have been inhaling smoke since the discovery of fire, it's not good for you, but we're pretty well adapted to it compared to a lot of the other shit polluting our environment.
The thing is, sure, they've got smoking rates down, but the use of other drugs is off the charts. How much of the other drug use is a result of people trying to treat anxiety and depression which in earlier days would have been treated by smoking? And while smoking might kill you in 50 years, opiates could kill you today if you're not careful, and antidepressants might make you want to kill yourself.
To answer your question, most people get hooked on nicotine when they're young and feel immortal (or borderline suicidal), either way, they don't give a fuck. When the awareness of their own mortality begins to creep in or they begin to value life more, some can quit, some can't.