Yes, you really did see a cigarette being smoked there. Blatantly. Followed by a knowing smile from the candidate himself.
The Telegraph reckon it's been done for shock value only, and just to gain publicity for publicity's sake. They make a good case.
However, I casually remarked on Twitter that Cain may have made a play for the hard-hounded smoker vote. He has, after all, already been outed as having campaigned with tobacco companies against smoking bans. As such, those hysterically against tobacco have his card marked already, so he has nothing whatsoever to lose by featuring a smoker in his material. Neither does it play badly with a rising libertarian movement in the US who are increasingly pure in their ideas of liberty and curtailment of state powers.
What's more, it dovetails in nicely - by highlighting the demon of our age specifically - with the growing distaste in libertarian circles towards politicians who seem comfortable in deciding what is good for us in all areas of consumption, and legislating brutally against those who think differently.
Incredibly, though, he will have competition from his own party if this is a subliminal call to overturn the consensus dictatorship towards lifestyle choices. Reason pulled out this video of Cain competitor Ron Paul telling college kids that they should have "free decisions about what you eat, drink, smoke and put into your own body" ... to rapturous applause..
Perhaps times are a'changin' over there.