yep, i get all that, and agree, but the smoke ring has a flavor of its own that can be "added" (for lack of a better word) to the flavor and aroma of the smoke itself. the smoke ring flavor stops at 140, yep - but the smoke itself can still be putting flavor into the food long after, no?
the other issue is the nitrates (or is it nitrites? or both?) that cause the smoke ring. they are present in wood smoke but also in cure, therefore it seems that a cure would work just as well as smoke for the smoke ring and its flavor. i have seen this with the jerky and sausages i have made. the smoke itself can add to the smoke ring, but only up to 140 degrees of course. but aside from the smoke ring, it also adds to the flavor.
in the old days, they simply did it without the cure - using salt that had natural curing agensts in its impurities. italy, spain, england, switzerland, the pennsylvania dutch (germans, actually), the butchers of smithfield, virginia, even the boers in south africa all used the cure to do this to meat. sometimes without smoke, but usually with smoke.
i think we're saying the same thing here, just from two different angles, perhaps?