Stepped premiums increase (step up) with age. Initially they are cheaper than level premiums, but after about 7 years start to become more expensive than level premiums, eventually becoming so expensive that many life insurance policies become unaffordable.
Level premiums stay constant (level) with age. Initially they are more expensive than stepped premiums, but over the life of the policy can save you tens of thousands of dollars. If you plan to keep your life insurance policy for more than 10 years, you should strongly consider level premiums.
Yes. Life Insurance premiums are set based on the estimated risk of the person being covered. All things being equal, smokers are considered a higher risk of claim than non-smokers. On average, premiums for smokers are about double the cost of premiums for non-smokers. However, if you stop smoking for 12 months, most life insurance companies will allow you to change your premiums to non-smoking rates.