Don’t be like Don
[Image by AMC]
For anyone acquainted with the iconic series Mad Men, there’s much to admire in its anti-hero Don Draper. The suits, the self-belief, the style the swagger. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day in his (immaculate Italian leather) shoes? Admittedly, he also has a lot of characteristics we perhaps shouldn’t aspire to (…probably not for discussion here!) And in fact, one of those habits has direct relevance this week. Because from today (5th December) in Scotland, it’s now illegal to smoke in a car or vehicle carrying anyone under the age of 18.
As society has moved on and what we deem acceptable shifts from decade to decade, so too many of the behaviours of the 1960’s seem bizarre now. We all wear seatbelts. We know not to drink and drive. And I’m sure Don would have recoiled in horror at the thought of ‘five a day’. So in years to come, the idea that anyone would smoke in a car with a child present will no doubt seem ridiculous.
But there’s a compelling argument as to why the change in law has come about. Children and young people are most at harm from secondhand smoke in a car because their lungs are not yet fully developed, meaning they are more at risk of serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. Latest research shows that the toxic particles in second hand smoke can reach harmful concentrations within a minute of lighting a cigarette in a car. Studies have also shown that the average toxic particle levels breathed in during a smoking car journey are more than ten times higher than the average levels found in the air in Edinburgh; never mind in downtown Manhattan. And if you think winding down the window and nonchalantly draping your arm outside makes it acceptable, then think again. Opening a window or putting the air conditioning on doesn’t get rid of the harmful toxins.
So if you fancy yourself as a bit of a Don Draper at heart, I’d maybe copy his sartorial elegance rather than his lifestyle. Don’t be a mad man. Don’t be like Don.