Is 'Mad Men' Just One Big Smoking Ad?

Jill Baughman
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Mad Men Betty Draper
'Mad Men' Betty Draper
The AMC show Mad Men takes place in the '60s, of course, when pretty much everyone and anyone smoked.

It was a social norm. Even though the habit's ill effects were becoming more prevalent, no one paid attention to risks like lung cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Lighting up was akin to putting on your pants in the morning.

What a difference 50 years makes. Smoking is as bad for you as obesity and new laws are in the works trying to get people to quit. Imagine if this law were proposed in the '60s. Don Draper would be standing in front of the White House with a picket sign ... and in a strange symbolic way, maybe that's exactly what he's doing right now in 2010.

Mad Men has thrust smoking back into the spotlight ... in a sexy way.

Despite all the hacking coughs and smoke screens, you still have to wonder if all the incessant smoking by these uber-hot stars on the show are helping to improve smoking's bad image, if even just a tad. Take a look at this video of every cigarette smoked on Mad Men.

You have to admit, they look really good doing it. If anyone can make a cancer stick sexy, it's Jon Hamm, aka Don Draper.

Part of the show's success lies in its authenticity; producers are simply reflecting the cultural norms of the time period. A show about the '60s without smoking is like making a show about the early '80s without mullets.

But for smokers who are fans of the show and are infatuated with the style, sophistication, and seductiveness of the '60s, seeing these smoking hot (couldn't resist) actors lighting up every five minutes could make it that much harder for them to kick the habit.

Of course, anyone emulating a TV show, especially one set in a different time period, has a whole other set of issues. But still, lots of people justify their actions by what they see on the screen, at least a little bit. It's impossible not to, regardless of the fact that the actors smoke fake cigs (thank goodness). I highly doubt that this show would persuade non-smokers to start up, but watching these sexy, successful characters on TV puffing away probably doesn't help a smoker's cause if they're looking to quit.

You can ponder this heavy sociological question, or you can just be amused by this funny video and get pumped for this Sunday's episode!

Do you think all of the smoking on Mad Men affects real people trying to stop?

 

Image via AMC

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