... trying to improve the safety of air travel.
Strangely, it did in some ways...
Smoking Made Flying Safer
The idea that flaming tar could make flying safer is laughable but absolutely true. It has to do with the tiny cracks in an airplane's fuselage that tend to form when the craft is hurtling through the air at 500 miles per hour thousands of feet above the ground. These cracks and holes need to be immediately detected and fixed, and those death sticks made finding them much easier. All engineers had to do was look for nicotine stains where the smoke was escaping. In 1988, when two congressmen pushed forward legislation to improve the depth of equipment checks, one of them remarked "The easiest and most common way to detect leaks in the fuselage today is to look for tobacco smoke stains on the outside metal. Not very reassuring, is it?"
I still have unpleasant memories of my father smoking in the car during long trips. I'm surprised that I never barfed in the back seat.