Fret Over Smoking on “Mad Men”?

“Desperate Housewives” star Kathryn Joosten made a bit of news this week complaining about cigarette smoking portrayed on AMC’s hit TV series “Mad Men.” The show is set in the New York City advertising world of the early-to-mid-1960s, and, true to the era, features characters who puff their way through nearly all of life’s occasions and activities.

Joosten knows something about that era, herself. Now age 70, she reportedly smoked for 45 years and has been twice-afflicted with lung cancer. Now she’s apparently calling for an on-air health warning and annual chest x-rays for the actors on the show.

“I think they should at least have a disclaimer at the front of the show saying smoking is relevant to the time and place with the subject matter we’re dealing with and it is not recommended because it causes cancer,” Joosten told E! Online. “They should at least do that.”

Unfortunately, I doubt Joosten has thought this through. It’s not as if viewers need to be enlightened on how ubiquitous chain-smoking might be culturally passé. In fact, the show’s popularity is attributable in large part to its 1960s aesthetic, its look back to the recent past. Why fret about excessive smoking in a show that’s referenced a host of ridiculously antiquated things, like a black-face minstrel show and rampant misogynist and anti-homosexual attitudes? In any case, who these days remains unaware that smoking is a major risk factor for health woes such as lung cancer and heart disease?

As for screening the actors for such smoking-related illnesses, that seems unnecessary. The actors are all reportedly smoking Ecstasy brand herbal cigarettes, without nicotine or tar.