^ha. to both your questions: its not the visual of the smoke that gets you going. I think after a while you get psychologically used to the fact that you're holding something and smoking it. For many it just becomes a part of daily routine, and breaking out of that is hard. For a long time, holding an unlit cigarette in my hand was as good as smoking it. But the nicotine is addictive.. constant dumping of that into your body gets it used to it.. and your brain wants more of it in your blood. It is a substance that provides temporary "excitement" ..and you end up becoming more alert (often, if you smoke while studying..you tend to remember more..and retain more) and people realize they "need" that.
As for the hookah, yea the rings do get you "hooked"..lol. What flavor? Did you ever smoke it with milk?