Mad men and mad women

One of my favorite TV shows at the moment is “Mad Men” because I like to see how the advertising business’ creative process worked 50 years ago. I especially liked the episode that dealt with Conrad Hilton’s request for the agency to design an advertising campaign that would fulfill his brief of “give me the moon,” but instead they gave him a campaign centered around “How do you say hamburger, lunch, or a Manhattan in Tokyo, Berlin or Bermuda?” The answer was Hilton, which was creatively rather clever, if perhaps a little presumptuous and culturally pompous.

However, after watching a few shows, I had to stop as I began to feel nauseous as a result of the sight of numerous cigarettes being ignited and inhaled every few seconds by everyone in every scene, which left me feeling quite breathless, even as a non-smoker. This is perhaps not the effect the show’s producers had in mind, but I have read similar stories about this Emmy award-winning show being banned in countries where smoking is prohibited by law on television.

As the first hotelier in Pakistan to completely ban smoking six years ago, which resulted in much healthier air within the hotel rooms and restaurants — and, I am glad to say, much healthier staff members and profits — I am an ardent champion for non-smokers to the extent that I not only forbid the disgusting habit within the hotel premises (apart from one sealed floor of smokers rooms), I also do not as a policy employ smokers. 

While I may not ask potential applicants seeking senior management positions for many details about their professional achievements beyond the past five years, I now insist on the receipt of a full medical report before we sign a contract, which must show evidence that the applicant is not only in tip-top physical condition (important for fire drills, as we have 17 floors) but more importantly, that he or she is a non-smoker with healthy lungs.

Quite apart from not wanting to end up with huge employee medical bills for the treatment of horrible self-inflicted smoking-related diseases, my own opinion is that smokers are mad men and mad women, and that they are illogically ignorant of the healthy people around them who wish to remain healthy by not breathing in poisonous and deadly secondhand smoke.

I also believe that ultimately their need to inhale deadly cancer-causing poison into their lungs and then spew it out into their immediate surroundings every 15 minutes will cost us, them and their colleagues dearly in terms of lost productivity and irrevocable harm to the environment. 

I also abhor sitting close to someone who has just inhaled 200 different poisonous substances into their lungs, especially in meetings where the air soon becomes fouled by their obnoxious habit as the smell begins to leak from their body’s orifices.

So the bottom line here is, if you smoke, do not apply for a senior position at this hotel, or with many other leading international hospitality companies whose medical insurance programs, and now their recruitment programs, exclude smokers, and quite rightly so.

I am presuming I will receive many “smoking hot” replies on this highly contentious subject, mostly from lifelong smokers and perhaps from a few non-smokers who may ask the question, do you also exclude those applicants who consume alcohol, which is in fact another life-threatening and in some cases debilitating poison?

Well, my answer to that question is to state unequivocally that people who enjoy the odd glass of wine or any other type of alcoholic refreshment do not need to sneak out of meetings and their offices every 15 minutes to poison themselves and the environment (apart from the lead characters in “Mad Men”). The only side effect to their addiction is their sometimes all-too-obvious hangovers in the mornings and their resulting grumpy behavior, which, if spotted, needs to be dealt with quickly as such people also need help and intervention and occasionally termination, if their problem gets out of control.

My advice is this: if you want to win at this game or any other game, have a glass of water when you wake up, a little exercise, a protein booster and then have a smoke-, alcohol- and drug-free day, week, month or year (occasionally) and as a result, perhaps a much happier, healthier and longer career and life.