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Silver profits up in smoke?

Long life is something that everyone has on his or her wish list.

Coin collecting has been extolled for many years as a way to escape the daily grind and relax.

Is this form of recreation good for you in a way that extends life as well as providing participants with a happy diversion?

I would like to think so, but I have no proof.

I suppose what you do in numismatics will make a difference.

If you get too wound up in daily precious metals fluctuations, your blood pressure might rise and negate any possible benefits that collecting can provide.

But if you get into serious study and set building, most variables fall within your own control

That should have a positive impact on blood pressure, or at least not a negative one.

I do have one anecdote that shows how coin collecting can make a difference.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of the Florida United Numismatists, Robert L. Hendershott, many years ago.

He was a remarkable man. He made it to 106 before he died in 2005.

His life might have been different had he not been so involved in coin collecting.

When he went off to college, he retained his interest in collecting coins but at the same time had taken up smoking as many did.

Soon he found that he could not afford both the coins he wanted to buy and cigarettes.

The cigarettes lost. He quit smoking.

There is no way to prove cause and effect, but I would like to think Bob’s long life was in part due to that decision made when he was 18.

Why do I bring up this bit of numismatic history this morning?

I read yesterday that U.S. cigarette sales are rising for the first time since 2006.

Apparently savings from lower gasoline prices are being plowed into smokes.

That sounds like an unhealthy trade-off.

Rather than wishing gasoline prices would rise again so people make healthier choices, it would be far better if we could present the issue as a choice between funding a pack-a-day habit, or buying 12 silver American Eagles a week.

Those who choose the Eagles instead of cigarettes will then be able to yell at their computer screens when the price of silver drops as it did this morning by 52 cents to $15.53 an ounce.

They can shorten their lives like the rest of us are doing.

But the heirs to all those silver Eagles will be happy.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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