I wonder how many readers have given attention to how many H. Beam Piper characters are smokers. In "Omnilingual" (_Analog_, 1957), the heroine, Martha Dane nervously chain-smokes cigarettes as she worries about whether she will solve the problem of the Martian language. Her fellow archeologist, Dr. Selim von Ohlhorst, smokes a carved pipe. The head of the expedition, Col. Hubert Penrose, smokes cigarettes from a silver case. In _Junkyard Planet_ (1962), the hero, Conn Maxwell, and his father puff cigars. (They prefer the tobacco from their native planet over Terran tobacco.) In _Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen_ (1965), Verkin Vall and his wife smoke cigarettes, as does Hadron Dalla. In _Little Fuzzy_ (1962), Pappy Jack Holloway, the sunstone prospector, smokes a pipe-- a trait that the Fuzzies find fascinating. (To Pappy Jack's credit, he does not allow the Fuzzies to smoke his pipe.) I invite you to find other examples.
I don't know whether Piper himself was a smoker, nor do I know what were his personal thoughts about tobacco. But certainly many of his characters smoke. I suspect that it was simply a matter of characterization. What his characters smoked and how they smoked dramatised whether they were young or old, insecure or calm, laid-back or aggressive. In the same vein, shaving habits or table manners can reveal something about a fictional character.
In any event, _Little Fuzzy_ is hands down Piper's best novel, and the secret is not hard to find. It lies in the delightful characterization of his little natives of Zarathustra that immediately have you rooting for them from the very begining. Of course, we understand the motives of the Zarathustra Mining Company. They began operations believing that there was no native intelligent life on the planet. Once the Fuzzies have been discovered by Pappy Jack, the company is in danger of losing its charter. So it is in its best interests to get the Fuzzies declared non-intelligent and to quickly exterminate them.
The scenes between the Fuzzies and Pappy Jack are marvelous, and there are some dandy courtroom scenes in which lawyers for both sides draw on an arsenal of dirty tricks. _Little Fuzzy_ probes the question, "What is human?" I am reminded of a story by Robert A. Heinlein called "Jerry Was a Man" that deals with the same theme. Heinlein's story is blatently sentimental. Piper's novel is less so. But I think both authors intended us to see that what makes somebody "human" is something that goes beyond the courtroom arguments, something emotional, something elusive... but nevertheless, something real for all that. If you pass this novel over, you will be cheating yourself.