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I’m on Urban Spoon’s e-mail list, which has to do with food and cooking, as the name suggests. I was shocked by an animation in today’s e-mail from email@example.com which shows an elegantly dressed young woman puffing away on a cigarette, adjoining another panel full of beautiful peonies.
This might have been considered acceptable several decades ago when cigarette smoking was being promoted by tobacco companies and others as a desirable behavior, especially for emancipated women. But in this day and age? I can’t think of anything more deplorable.
Then I followed the link and discovered it was a character from Mad Men, supposedly “looking pissed,” as the caption maintains.
So do I chalk my overreaction down to simply failing to be hip with modern TV culture, like Mad Men? Or is this something to get upset about?
2014-05-11: After posting the above, I received reaction from Michael McFadden, author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains,” which I bought but don’t find to be too objective. In his comments, which I’ve published, he disagreed with my viewpoint. However, “S” then e-mailed me, strongly disputing McFadden’s position. After reviewing S’s e-mail and doing further research myself, I felt it worth adding the following:
From “S” (whose identity I’ve agreed, exceptionally, to keep confidential):
In seeing the reply from the staunch smoking advocate, Michael McFadden, regarding the Johnny Carson clip, I did some checking on the people featured in the clip. Note that George Gobel, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson were each prominently smoking … but Bob Hope was not smoking.
George Gobel died at age 71 during heart surgery.
Dean Martin was diagnosed with lung cancer, died age 78 of respiratory failure due to emphysema.
Johnny Carson had a heart attack, died age 79 of respiratory failure due to emphysema.
Bob Hope died at age 100 of pneumonia. One Internet source said Hope did smoke, another said he did not. Because he did endorse Chesterfield cigarettes back in the 40’s, I’m speculating he may have smoked back then and later quit. I don’t ever recall seeing Hope smoking.
Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_carson says:
Carson was a heavy smoker for decades and, in the early days of his tenure on Tonight, often smoked on-camera. It was reported that as early as the mid-1970s, he would repeatedly say, “These things are killing me.” His younger brother recalled that during their last conversation, Carson kept saying, “Those damn cigarettes.”
Hardly seems the warm nostalgia McFadden tried to evoke.In response to the above I replied:
One has to be careful using individual stories to prove a general point – e.g. cigar-smoking comedian, George Burns, died at 100, but it’s probably still a valid response in this case. (I just checked on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Burns and he’s shown holding a cigar. Burns did an act with his wife, Gracie Allen, who died at age 69 in 1964 from a heart attack after a long battle with heart disease, possibly from her husband’s smoking.)
This generated the following response from “S”:
Gee, you’re right about George Burns. Also, our old nemesis in the (Missouri State) Capitol, John Britton, is in his late 80’s and about a year ago commented on how he cut back from smoking 4 packs a day to only 3 packs a day now. By the way, I heard recently he now pulls an oxygen tank behind him.
Couple of observations:
1 – For every 1 smoker that lives a very long life, there are many others that have their lives end prematurely. On average, smokers live about 13-14 years less than non-smokers.
2 – Don’t cigar smokers say they don’t inhale? That could reduce the odds for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, but not for oral cancer. The real reason they likely don’t inhale may have to do with the alkalinity of cigar smoke making it difficult to draw into the lungs. With cigarettes, the tobacco is flue-cured to concentrate the sugars, plus other sugars like molasses are added, to reduce the alkalinity and make the smoke much easier to inhale … and much easier for the toxins to be introduced to the respiratory and cardiovascular system.