A few months ago I was reading something that a smoker had written (not on here) about being in his mid fifties, smoking 20+ a day and being fit as a fiddle.
My dad was 40 when I was born and when I was 15 he was fit as a fiddle, I've just come back from visiting him and in the last few months he has gone down hill markedly. He's 83 now and although that's a ripe old age he's been paying the price for a lifetime of smoking since he was in his mid 60's. His 1st heart attack was before I was married (which was 1997) in the following years his heart problems got worse and worse and he eventually stopped smoking, he wasn't expected to last more than a couple of years so he moved to be closer to the family, in a managed flat, as he was worried that he would collapse at home and nobody would know for a few days.
That move bought him under the care of a different health authority who decided that he could have a heart bypass, valve replacement and a defibrillator fitted which gave him a new lease of life albeit, restricted in what he can do.
The surgery was about a decade ago, his decline is now faster than I've seen since before the OP. He has COPD, the defibrillator is kicking in more than it used and his kidneys are failing (apparently also smoking related) so this is over 15 years of hugely restricted quality of life. He's in good spirits, he's certainly not knocking on death's door just jet and may well go on for several more years. However he's slowly becoming housebound, despite lifts and a mobility scooter, with Sky sports as his primary companion.
I know that irrespective of the smoking his health might have been bad but all of the symptoms that he's been dealing with since his late 60's have links to smoking, his quality of life has been much worse than many people his age. We all hope that we are going to be the one who dodges the bullet and I can see that someone who's not feeling ill effects has an easy time denying that they are doing harm to themselves. My message is that smoking is like a destructive pension scheme the more you pay into it the more you'll get out of it, the likelihood is its not going to pay out until you retire but what it pays out is what you have to live with.
StuartH once said something like "You can be a fit smoker but you can never be a healthy one". Couldn't have put it better.
My dad wouldn't ever want anyone to pity him, he knows that he's reaping what he sowed. He is so pleased that I quit when I did and hates seeing young people smoke now that its well known how damaging it is.
So those who are teetering on the brink of a quit, remember that every cigarette, cigar or pipe is a down payment towards a future of suffering.