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Smoke, Smoke, Smoke that Cigarette
November 2, 2010 6:08 AM   Subscribe

Every Cigarette Smoked in Mad Men. Well, clearly not every cigarette, but it seems to me the show is one big tobacco ad. Also mentioned in parody.

Previously at AskMeFi.

People are asking the question: does Mad Men promote smoking too much?
posted by bwg (86 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mad Men is an ad that states "Smoke and you too can be an empty, emotionally impotent shell of a human being, leaving a path of destroyed lives with all you come in contact with.

"And you'll look great in a suit."
posted by gc at 6:21 AM on November 2, 2010 [18 favorites]


I can't be the only one who started smoking because of this show.
posted by adipocere at 6:22 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mad Men. It's toasted!
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:23 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Does the show actually promote smoking? If you can show statistics showing that smoking rates have risen among target demographics that watch the show, then sure, maybe the show promotes smoking. Otherwise, it just shows a lot of smoking.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:24 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This show depicts a time when it was considered normal for adults to smoke, and most adults (and many kids) did. My own parents smoked, and all their friends smoked; my teachers smoked, my doctor smoked, everybody smoked. Nobody ever stopped smoking; there were ashtrays built into the doors of cars so that you could even smoke while driving. If Mad Men were to show less smoking, they would not be true to the historical reality. I only hope that people who watch movies and TV programs in which people smoke are not foolish enough to forget that all this smoking was actually a terrible mistake which caused much sickness and death in those who did it.
posted by grizzled at 6:27 AM on November 2, 2010 [15 favorites]


I can't be the only one who started smoking because of this show.

Well, it got me started drinking Canadian Club.
posted by exogenous at 6:30 AM on November 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


You mean, did America's past promote smoking?

Of course!

Next topic?
posted by applemeat at 6:30 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The links' authors need to catch up on S4 before I can take them seriously.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:32 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not a smoker, and Roger Sterling's heart attack didn't exactly want to make me light up.
posted by bwg at 6:33 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


As someone who has more-or-less quit smoking (parties don't count, dammit!) I find it really difficult to watch TV shows and movies that features a lot of smoking. However, not nearly as difficult as when I actually smoked but couldn't smoke in the place I was doing the watching. Anyone else get that?
posted by griphus at 6:40 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Depiction is not the same as promotion. I mean, Christ, everyone in the office voted for Nixon.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:45 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


My dad smoked, all our friends smoked, all my friends (up until my early 20s) smoked, everyone around me smoked, there was smoking at the mall, in restaurants, in stores, in the coffee and donut hall after church, in the car, at every function we ever went to, at every house we visited, at every workplace. There was never a case of "you can't smoke here." After Thanksgiving dinner you'd have 10 adults smoking cigarettes and blowing smoke in our faces. Like Patty and Selma.

All the old Polaroids I have from that time show us kids surrounded by adults with cigarettes. If there is an adult in the shot, they are either smoking or there is a pack of cigarettes near them. Ashtrays were part of the furniture, like lamps, and they were always filled with butts.

I wonder if there was ever a time when I was inside and wasn't breathing second hand smoke. Probably not.

I remember that time. Mad Men does not make me want to smoke any more than it makes me want to refer to the custodian as "that colored guy."

I'm curious if there is some appeal by generations who don't remember when smoking was ubiquitous. Trust me, kids, you don't want to go back there.

Now, the bottle of scotch in the office. That I think I can get behind.
posted by bondcliff at 6:47 AM on November 2, 2010 [18 favorites]



Now, the bottle of scotch in the office. That I think I can get behind

Funny dat, back when I used to work for bignameadvertisingagency, the Field Supervisor always had a bottle in his bottom drawer.
posted by The Lady is a designer at 7:02 AM on November 2, 2010


To portray is to glorify.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 7:08 AM on November 2, 2010


Missiles K. Monster: "To portray is to glorify"

So being despicable is good?
posted by bwg at 7:11 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


From what I've seen of the show, they overdo the self-congratulatory "didn't we used to be so awful" thing. The smoking is their main prop for this, I think... maybe, the misogyny is actually #1.

Anyway, I'd be surprised if anyone watched pregnant moms nervously fingering their cigarette lighters and drawing deep drags through shaking fingers and thought it looked good.
posted by ServSci at 7:13 AM on November 2, 2010


Wow, I'm glad somebody's asking tough questions like these. Next thing you know, they'll be asking whether video games make kids violent, and whether rock music makes them worship the devil.
posted by usonian at 7:15 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


To portray is to glorify.

That's why we never make books, movies, and video games about Nazi Germany.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:16 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


To portray is to glorify.

DON'T MENTION THE WAR
posted by shakespeherian at 7:17 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm curious if there is some appeal by generations who don't remember when smoking was ubiquitous. Trust me, kids, you don't want to go back there.

I had a job proofreading legal documents in a big room full of long tables--we'd all pair up and one would read aloud while the other followed on a copy. And we smoked and drank coffee and smoked and drank coffee and smoked and drank coffee and talked literature and TV and read a city code now and then, and, man, how we filled those ashtrays. And the poor non-smkers who squawked got teased for hovering around an open window while some blew smoke rings in their direction. I feel guilty everytime I think of that place.

But, jeez, all you have to do is watch something like Nick at Nite or Turner Movie Channel. Nick and Nora having cocktails and cigarettes for breakfast to see how taken for granted it was to smoke. Peter Gunn lighting up in the mouth of a dark alley. Or watch a documentary about early broadcast television--from Ed Murrow to Arthur Godfrey, Jackie Gleason to Johnny Carson--all of them used cigarettes for props, as part of the act, part of the physical repertoire. All that was lost when it became taboo to smoke on television, so it's no wonder it's such a part of Mad Men. The things one can do with shadow and smoke and light--not to mention how cool one can look when one smokes. Look at Bogie. But just not there at the end....
posted by y2karl at 7:30 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


To portray is to glorify.

What I like about this line of thinking is, if you follow it to it's conclusion you can't even have Victorian-esque moral screeds cause you literally could not have antagonists or any event stronger then a picnic happen.
posted by The Whelk at 7:30 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe not even the picnic if it glorifies littering.
posted by mmmbacon at 7:32 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


just like Betty!
posted by The Whelk at 7:33 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I cannot believe you just mentioned littering why do you hate nature.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:33 AM on November 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is an OK compilation, but it's no Seven Minutes in Deadwood.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2010


From what I've seen of the show, they overdo the self-congratulatory "didn't we used to be so awful" thing.

There was a lot more of the wink/nudge to modern audiences going on in season one than the rest of the show. Going back and watching that season over after just finishing up season four, I'm a bit surprised by how forced a lot of the "look how different we were!" seemed to be. Now that they're in solid character-study territory, the 60s stamp is less in your face and more...er, insidious.
posted by frobozz at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


But, jeez, all you have to do is watch something like Nick at Nite or Turner Movie Channel. Nick and Nora having cocktails and cigarettes for breakfast to see how taken for granted it was to smoke.

A few years ago someone gave my son the DVDs of The Electric Company (which, by the way, are awesome) and my favorite part is Bill Cosby smoking a big fat cigar while he's teaching kids how to read.
posted by bondcliff at 7:38 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


To portray is to glorify.

ALL GLORY TO THE LUCKY STRIKE.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on November 2, 2010


I wasn't around for the '60s but as recently as the early '80s the vast majority of the adults I knew smoked. My memories of my grandparents' house are clouded by blue smoke, and once she baked us a pie that tasted so much like cigarettes we had to throw it out. Any time I went to a social gathering with adults, the room(s) where they were hanging out were always hazy with smoke. When my family was at the rec centre/golf course the company my dad worked for owned, he and his friends would send me to the cigarette machine with their order and tell me to keep the change. Hell, as recently as 1987 (my first year of high school) the smoking area was inside the building, although mercifully a long way from my locker. It goes without saying that a lot of my family friends and relatives who smoked are no longer with us (happily, my father quit in the mid-'80s).

I just saw the first episode of Mad Men, and when I watched the very first scene (Don in a bar, talking to the waiter) I wasn't thinking all those glamorous people looked super-cool with their smokes (although, let's be honest, they do), I was thinking "Thank God things aren't like that any more." A lot of my friends and relatives my age smoke at parties and that sort of thing, but I don't think I know anyone my age who chain smokes.

Incidentally, old movies are even worse for this. I screened The Maltese Falcon for my library tea and movies group a couple of months ago, and I swear to God every time any character stops moving for more than two seconds, s/he lights up a smoke. The amount of smoking actually got distracting. Roger Ebert once pointed out that an old cinematographer's trick was to put a light between two characters talking and smoking so that when they exhaled the cloud would be backlit and look cool.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:41 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or....what y2karl said.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:43 AM on November 2, 2010


I remember smoking on a plane. I also recall a short story I once read, I think it was sci-fi, that extrapolates this whole thing further into a scenario where smokers were outcasts in society and had to huddle in hidden corners to smoke. Was that read just a few decades ago for a dystopian future ?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 7:45 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?
posted by griphus at 7:52 AM on November 2, 2010


Heh, it's so obvious once pointed out. Wouldn't surprise me one bit to learn the tobacco companies pushed this. How would one go about following that money trail?
posted by BeerFilter at 7:55 AM on November 2, 2010


my favorite part is Bill Cosby smoking a big fat cigar while he's teaching kids how to read.

I had this exact same experience. Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman) taking out his book of matches: "When I itches, I scratches, and when I'm bored, I reads matches. Close. Cover. Before. Striking. Beautiful."
posted by The Bellman at 7:58 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


You laugh, but those people had the healthiest T-Zones you'll ever see.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


I also recall a short story I once read, I think it was sci-fi, that extrapolates this whole thing further into a scenario where smokers were outcasts in society and had to huddle in hidden corners to smoke.

In contrast, this just reminded me of the opening scene of Planet of the Apes, in which Charlton Heston is smoking a cigar in the cabin of his spaceship.
posted by usonian at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember smoking in movie theaters.


Crap. Now I want a cigarette.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 8:05 AM on November 2, 2010


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?


You're serious? Then listen....
*settles down in front of fire, pulls out cigarette and uses tip of twig to light up*
*exhales, with pleasure*
posted by The Lady is a designer at 8:07 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


In contrast, this just reminded me of the opening scene of Planet of the Apes, in which Charlton Heston is smoking a cigar in the cabin of his spaceship.

Yeah that was pretty unrealistic.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:09 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


What was that like?

As the passenger next to the smoker, it was like being given an asthma attack by a stranger.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:12 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?


Smoldering snakes.
posted by mmrtnt at 8:13 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


i was a kid when they had the smoking section on planes. i remember the smell, like the teachers break room of stale cigs and coffee. it still bewilders me that they still have that 'no smoking' light next to the 'fasten seat belts' light (as if it'll ever turn off).
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:26 AM on November 2, 2010


The C-130 military cargo plane, and I believe the C-141, had ashtrays on the outboard instrument consoles. These planes all entered service in the early and mid 1960s. If I recall correctly this type of feature was wiped out with the C-5 around 1969.
posted by crapmatic at 8:31 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


To portray is to glorify

Maybe it was unfair of me to just drop that into the conversation as a one-liner, since it can be read in a more simplistic and proscriptive way than I mean it.

The ultimate currency in life is human attention. When we create art, we say, "This is worthy of attention, not that." And so anything we say is worthy of attention glorifies it in comparison to everything that is ignored.

Even when we portray the negatives, we can't escape the fact that we are also saying that these negatives and these specific lives are also worthy of attention, and that's a powerful message. Intentionally or not, the art around us creates a framework that defines lives and ways of living and that are worthy of attention and lives and ways of living that aren't. Every good artist makes decisions about whether the message or meaning of their art is stronger than the amount of attention and corresponding glorification they give their subject.

That's why we never make books, movies, and video games about Nazi Germany.

Of course, that's the point. We makes lots of books and movies and video games about Nazis. But all that attention has also often had the effect of caricaturing and fetishizing them, and obscuring the genuine suffering they caused. Spielberg, for instance, created "Schindler's List" in part due to regrets he had for the more comedic and ahistorical way he'd treated Nazis in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

Does that mean he shouldn't have created "Raiders of the Lost Ark"? Of course not. But it means he recognized that the act of portrayal can have unintended effects, like minimizing the reality of the Holocaust.

I don't think it's controversial to say that the lovingly lingering shots of cigarette smoking in "Mad Men" do something a little similar. Anti-smoking campaigns since the 1970s have been attacking the notion that smoking is glamorous, and they've only very recently become successful. "Mad Men" is a sort of paean to an age when we could guiltlessly enjoy the pleasures of smoking because everyone else did, and most of us didn't know any better.

Personally, I'm a former smoker, and I loved smoking. "Mad Men" definitely connects me with the reasons why I did. The depiction of the occasional coughing jag hardly counteracts the endless images of wonderfully expressive smoking. "Mad Men" is a fantastic show, and I'm not saying they should change a thing. (Well, except to drop everything having to do with Don's laughably mysterious past. He's more interesting as a 1960s everyman than anything else.) But anyone should be able to acknowledge that the choice to glamorize smoking is a choice that brings a lot of baggage with it. Is the baggage worth it? Probably. Might depend on whether you know someone who died of lung cancer or not.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 8:33 AM on November 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Mad Men" is a sort of paean to an age when we could guiltlessly enjoy the pleasures of smoking because everyone else did, and most of us didn't know any better.

I dunno, an awful lot of the show seems to be specifically about how terrible this nostalgia-tinged culture really was: the misogyny, the racism, the casual hitting of children, the smoking and drinking in hospitals and while pregnant, the Ayn Rand.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 AM on November 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't think the show promotes smoking enough.
posted by hellslinger at 8:52 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Spielberg, for instance, created "Schindler's List" in part due to regrets he had for the more comedic and ahistorical way he'd treated Nazis in "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

And even Schindler's List is visually beautiful and full of arresting images, which is how I read your statement that "portraying is glorifying." That doesn't mean a given image or visual promotes or endorses X thing, but it's really difficult to make an "anti-______" visual because photographic and other visual images tend to beautify (or foreground or what have you) their subjects.

Most horrible images of war and suffering are vivid, colorful, attention-getting. We look at them like trainwrecks. Most of the famous journalistic photos stuck in our heads are of ugly, ugly but riveting looking things. Hell, the zombies on The Walking Dead are gorgeous in their hideousness.

The most loving, lingering images of smoking I've seen recently were in Goodnight and Good Luck -- right when I was quitting smoking. It was nicotine porn.

But what's even more riveting is how smoking sounds onscreen. The scritch of a match, the indescribable amplified sound of the paper and tobacco catching fire. The inhaling. Gawd.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


My question is, when they are shooting the episodes, how many cigarettes do they go through (for continuity)? Do the actors go home at night with serious cig hangovers? Or do they use some fake cigarettes that only Hollywood has access to?
posted by sundrop at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2010


Did Don Draper not take out this ad in the NYT?:

Why I’m Quitting Tobacco
Recently my advertising agency ended a long relationship with Lucky Strike cigarettes, and I’m relieved. For over 25 years we devoted ourselves to peddling a product for which good work is irrelevant, because people can’t stop themselves from buying it. A product that never improves, causes illness and makes people unhappy. But there was money in it. A lot of money. In fact, our entire business depended on it. We knew it wasn’t good for us, but we couldn’t stop. And then, when Lucky Strike moved their business elsewhere, I realized, here was my chance to be someone who could sleep at night because I know that what I’m selling doesn’t kill my customers.

Or do you think an ad man might really be lying??
posted by Kabanos at 8:56 AM on November 2, 2010


I remember my first few years in college, being able to smoke in the classroom. I find this such an alien and bizarre concept that I sometimes wonder if my memory is faulty, but no. We'd sit in class and light up whenever the urge struck.

I am so, so glad that time has passed.
posted by quin at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2010


Or do they use some fake cigarettes that only Hollywood has access to?

In interviews, the actors say they use herbal cigarettes (whatever those are) that, while not (as?) carcinogenic as real cigarettes, can still make you feel crappy and nauseous after being around them all day.
posted by frobozz at 9:02 AM on November 2, 2010


Oh, apparently they're made out of cornsilk. Mmm. Still better than tobacco, I guess.
posted by frobozz at 9:04 AM on November 2, 2010


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?


The fig-leaf the airplanes used to off us non-smokers was "separate" non-smoking seating. It worked about as well as you would expect. You know how you get off a long plane ride feeling dry and wrung out? Now imagine also being sticky with flop sweat, smelling like sour bong water and the back of your mouth tasting of ashes. Yeah, I don't miss smoking on airplanes.
posted by bonehead at 9:06 AM on November 2, 2010


Or do they use some fake cigarettes that only Hollywood has access to?

Oh fer... It's linked right up at the top of this page.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:08 AM on November 2, 2010


Yeah, I'm sure I'm not the only child of the Sixties who, while having to endure the sledgehammer medications for asthma available at the time, watching the fascinating curlicues of smoke rising from an unattended cigarette balanced on the edge of one of the many ashtrays in the living room. I also remember my mother reminding my father to not actually smoke when he was in my room doing story duty at bedtime. Later I joined the majority of my friends in smoking in classrooms, movie theatres, airplanes, the college hallway, etcetera. It was a different time, indeed. *coughs, wheezes in memory*
posted by jokeefe at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


My first design school didn't really allow lighting up in "class" per se since classes were held for the various group/years in a huge studio around our joined tables. Otoh, we could smoke at the entrance hall where chairs had been set up for the purpose and I have a distinct memory of sitting on the window sill smokin' right after formal class was over. Was it necessarily the good old days or simply another world? Even as a smoker I prefer not being able to smoke inside, on planes or any where it is not allowed. I've noticed longer and longer periods in between the urge to smoke, of late, and wonder if I've been simply contaminated with very clever nanobots ;p
posted by The Lady is a designer at 9:16 AM on November 2, 2010


I remember my first few years in college, being able to smoke in the classroom. I find this such an alien and bizarre concept that I sometimes wonder if my memory is faulty, but no. We'd sit in class and light up whenever the urge struck.

I had a professor in college who spent years locking horns with the administration over where and when he could smoke as they started to crack down on smoking in university buildings, culminating in him demanding that all his classes be scheduled in first floor classrooms with windows, so that he could yell his lectures through the window while he stood outside and smoked.
posted by Copronymus at 9:16 AM on November 2, 2010


One of the thing I really don't miss about ubiquitous smoking is how dirty it made everything. Ash and butts everywhere. Floors and sidewalks used to get really filthy, much quicker than they do now. Burn marks on each and every piece of public furnature and waiting-room carpet.
posted by bonehead at 9:17 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


culminating in him demanding that all his classes be scheduled in first floor classrooms with windows, so that he could yell his lectures through the window while he stood outside and smoked.

To be fair, this is how I communicated with people all freshman year.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on November 2, 2010


One generation's Joe Camel is another generation's Don Draper.
posted by tommasz at 10:14 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oddly, since watching Mad Men, I have quit smoking and spent the money I've saved on a killer suit and a nifty fedora.

As for smoking on planes: I took a flight from London to Johannesburg via Rome in 1998 with Alitalia. On the secon leg (Rome to Jo'burg) I was asked if I wanted a smoking or non-smoking seat. I was shocked. I didn't think any airlines still allowed smoking. Idiot that I was, I excitedly asked for a smoking seat. What I should have done - of course - was get a seat in the non-smoking section and just wandered back to the smoking section when I wanted a cigarette!

Instead, I got stuck next to a 90 year-old Italian lady who was deaf as a post and chain-smoked for most of the 10 hour flight. She woke me up at one point to offer me a fag. I nearly ironed her out.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2010


The scritch of a match, the indescribable amplified sound of the paper and tobacco catching fire. The inhaling. Gawd.

Watching Mad Men has never made me crave a cigarette. Reading this thread, on the other hand...
posted by Zozo at 11:07 AM on November 2, 2010


Objection!

I am quite sure one of those is a joint!
posted by delmoi at 11:35 AM on November 2, 2010


My name is Peggy Olsen and everything is about to get kinda awesome.
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on November 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


What I should have done - of course - was get a seat in the non-smoking section and just wandered back to the smoking section when I wanted a cigarette!

Yup, that's what I always did. God, it was so nice to be able to smoke aloft. When they outlawed smoking on planes, I quit flying for a while, fearing I wouldn't make it through a 7-hour flight without lighting up.
On some of the older planes, you can still find an ashtray in the armrest. They are always full of gum.

You could smoke in my high school. Everyone did. And in the movie theatre, which had a retractable ceiling that opened to the stars at night.


Do those who say showing smoking glamorizes it also think the MM picnic littering scene is going to make people want to fling garbage in the park?
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:45 AM on November 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm curious if there is some appeal by generations who don't remember when smoking was ubiquitous. Trust me, kids, you don't want to go back there.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and there was too much smoking then. But I've ended up with a 1953 Esquire guide to bachelor entertaining and the amount of discussion of smoking in it boggles even me. Apparently a good bachelor entertainer sets up whisky tumblrs around the room filled with cigarettes so his guests can be sure there's always one to light up with within five feet.

(I've never smoked. Having a parent get smoking-related cancer while you're in grade school will do that. Smoking looks elegant in old movies, but I have no desire to smoke cigarettes, ever.)
posted by immlass at 11:48 AM on November 2, 2010


The best thing about smoking bans is bars is now you can smell whether or not they clean behind the bar. NO MORE ACCIDENTAL FRUIT FLY COCKTAILS FOR ME!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I have vaguely wondered how smoking actually works on Mad Men. I mean, smoking is now illegal indoors virtually, well, everywhere including work places, isn't it? So how is it allowed on-set? Plus I am really curious to know how you can tell actors "I know you don't smoke, but this job requires you to smoke like 20 a day regardless of your health concerns."

I don't have a problem with any of this, I really am just curious about how this operates.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on November 2, 2010


In NYC I was allowed to smoke on stage if it was part of a perfomance.
posted by The Whelk at 12:19 PM on November 2, 2010


I thought I read about a NYC bar that skirted the ban by declaring every patron as an actor in a performance piece, but a quick look around reveals that I may have been thinking about Minnesota.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't have a problem with any of this, I really am just curious about how this operates.

They are smoking herbal cigarettes and not tobacco.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:37 PM on November 2, 2010


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?


The smokers were seated at the back and so blew smoke forward over everyone who didn't smoke.

I worked in offices where everyone smoked, nobody thought anything of it, and we non-smokers had no say about it.

I remember when there was smoking on the London Underground. The second and next to last carriages were the smoking carriages and, dear God, if you happened to be standing at the wrong point on the platform and got in the smoking carriage by mistake, the three or four minutes it took to reach the next station would be enough to kipper you.

It was only after the King's Cross fire that smoking on the Underground was banned.

I grew up in a two-up, two-down tiny cottage with parents who smoked 40-60 a day, Park Drive Plain, a cigarette so deadly it was third on the list of the cigarettes with the highest tar content, bettered only by Senior Service and Capstan Full Strength.

In the 60s and 70s nobody had heard of passive smoking, and although I have never touched a cigarette in my life, I'm prone to lung-related illnesses - I've had pleurisy, pneumonia and every cold I get ends up as a bronchial infection of varying severity. I have no doubt that this is as a result of the amount of smoke I was forced to inhale as a child. My mother died in 1980 of bronchial pneumonia. The last years of her life, she'd risk blowing up her oxygen tank to light another fag. My father died a year later of throat cancer.
posted by essexjan at 12:47 PM on November 2, 2010


I cleaned the office of a Radio New Zealand announcer back in ... '85? Every night the desk was covered in little specks of ash and the ashtray had a couple of dozen butts in it.

In only-vaguely-related - here's a beautiful mash of the RJD2 theme tune and 'Nature Boy' in maximal '60s style.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2010


Really, the best cure for finding cigarettes glamorous is to live in an old house that used to be a heavy smoker's residence. Even if they've repainted the walls, that stink gets in the wood and drywall, and the first rainy day, it's like you're living in a giant ashtray.

My dad started smoking when he was 12 (this would have been, oh, 1957 or so). He died before his 50th birthday, while having his second heart attack (with two strokes in-between, and according to the doctor, probably several unnoticed mini-strokes).

He never really stopped smoking till that last year, and chances are good he backslid even then.

Every morning from across the house you heard him wake up with an epic smoker's cough that sounded like the end of the world.

I used to beg him to stop smoking as a kid; I hated the smell and the ashes and the sour stink of old smoke. I hated always having to sit far away from him because I didn't want to breath it in.

And yet, I can see how it looks glamorous, how sexy and sultry it is to have smoke coming out of your mouth, to play with fire. But not sexy enough to want a yellow ring of nicotine around my walls, or to have that smell on me.

It's possible that kids today, growing up w/out being forced to gag on their elders' smoke, might find it glamorous. That would be tragic. I doubt that Mad Men will really be to blame, though.
posted by emjaybee at 2:18 PM on November 2, 2010


it still bewilders me that they still have that 'no smoking' light next to the 'fasten seat belts' light (as if it'll ever turn off).

Last year I flew internationally on a quite new 777. Where the 'no smoking' symbol usually had pride of place, lit up across the aircraft (as if you'd ever forget) was a new light: 'Please turn off electric devices' that was enabled for take off and landing.

It was just those words, too. Not a 'no devices' symbol but five words, in English next to the seatbelts light. I didn't feel a pang of nostalgia, per se, but it did feel like something was out of place.
posted by Five O'Clock at 4:08 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the old days, I had spent some time in moody bars patronized by older folks, some of whom had fought in previous wars. When the anti-smoking laws started coming in, there was a sentiment mentioned that their sacrifices for their country were not fully appreciated.
posted by ovvl at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2010


it seems to me the show is one big tobacco ad.

Does it? Really? That seems a bit silly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2010


I think the show is one big high heel ad. I've bought six already! Six pairs!
posted by CarlRossi at 7:30 PM on November 2, 2010


The only thing I've bought is actual episodes of Mad Men. I'm okay with that.
posted by jokeefe at 12:12 AM on November 3, 2010


I remember smoking on a plane.

What was that like?



If you want to preserve a mystique best not read the story about the plane landing in London with the entire passenger cabin dead because a fire started by a discarded cigarette got into the lining of the aircraft. Brr.
posted by rodgerd at 1:09 AM on November 3, 2010


stavrosthewonderchicken: "it seems to me the show is one big tobacco ad.

Does it? Really? That seems a bit silly
"

Not at all; on that show practically every two minutes someone lights up. It was the first thing I noticed; I thought: "Christ, they smoke a lot."

Never mind the drinking and philandering.
posted by bwg at 2:57 AM on November 3, 2010


I still think I will miss it when it's gone. The smell defines an era, as much if not more than the fashions, the slang, or the technology. My great-grandmother was born before Oklahoma was a state, and she used to talk about how much the streets stank of horse shit. Everywhere, for hundreds of years, the defining smell of urbanity was horse shit. That's all gone now. Or go back further, back when people wouldn't bathe for months at a time. The overwhelming, stomach-churning stench of a person that's been living in their own filth, stumbling around falling into horse shit.

The 1950s and 60s smelled like cigarettes. The 70s also, except in New York where it smelled like sweat and urine as well.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:49 AM on November 3, 2010


I quit smoking about a year ago and cigarette smoke still smells good to me and no way am I gonna watch that, thanks.
posted by zardoz at 6:05 AM on November 3, 2010


I worked in offices where everyone smoked, nobody thought anything of it, and we non-smokers had no say about it.

A landlady I had told me that, in a job she worked in the early nineties before workplaces in Ontario went smoke-free, she asked the smokers in her office to please not smoke near her desk as she had asthma. She was very personable and sweet-natured, so I know she would have asked them nicely and tactfully. But after that they deliberately clustered around her desk and blew smoke at her.

Fortunately workplaces went smoke-free just before I hit the workforce, and bars went smoke-free in Ontario maybe five years later. My parents never smoked and I was seldom around smokers growing up so I've been exposed to relatively little smoke in my life, but that little was more than enough. These days my contact with smokers consists of cleaning up the cigarette butts, cigarette packs and cellophane wrappers they throw on front walk and rose garden (I live next to a bus stop). Assholes. I love Mad Men, but good and stylish as that show is, even on there smoking never looks glamourous to me.
posted by orange swan at 7:12 AM on November 3, 2010



From what I've seen of the show, they overdo the self-congratulatory "didn't we used to be so awful" thing.


It really doesn't. It took me a few episodes to notice that whenever you saw a cleaner, a sandwich server or a lift operator, they were always black; whenever you saw a black person in the office, they were always the cleaner.

My dad smoked Senior Service for years, including when my brother brought his newborn children round, and when he was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn't that long ago that women smoked through pregnancy (my brother's girlfriend still did). Smoking has only been banned in public places here for three years or so - and the only time we allow smoking on TV ads is when it's old footage of someone like Winston Churchill, when it was difficult to get footage of him without a cigar in his hand.
posted by mippy at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2010


Accidental Fruit Fly Cocktails...

I can't decide whether that's a good band name or a good album title.

It's possible that kids today, growing up w/out being forced to gag on their elders' smoke, might find it glamorous. That would be tragic. I doubt that Mad Men will really be to blame, though.

It is my experience that young people rarely pay much attention to how what they are doing now will translate into how they will look when they get old. Smoking is one. People are quitting smoking more because it's so damn expensive than anything else. Hell, I would go into the Eastlake Zoo just after it stopped being the It'll Do (Only, it never did because it would always do, even if just barely, you know ? -- I mean, oh, wow, man, think about it, it's heavy...) and there were all those old timers up there, sitting at the bar smoking away while we played pool and smoked away. And, man, they were gnarly! All wrinkled and pocked and looking like a failed skin graft walking. But then, we never thought about what we would look like when we became the old farts sitting at the bar, now, did we ? Until, that is, we did and whoops! too late !

But then nobody makes you have to watch a video virtual aging where you have to see how those tats will look when you are 60, either, now do they ?

But would that mean people would get few tattoos, though ? Or just make another mental note to be sure to kill themselves before they grow old ?

And look how often that promise is kept. I mean, think about, for, god's sake, think about all the adult children who need your house and IRAs like right now !? Have you no shame, sir !? And not to mention short term memory loss-- I mean, think about, for, god's sake, think about all the adult children who need your house and IRAs like right now ? Have you no shame, sir !? And another thing--what about short term whatchamacallit and what was I talking about just now anyway !?
posted by y2karl at 9:27 PM on November 3, 2010


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