Is the constant smoking and drinking in Mad Men exaggerated? Maybe not.
In those halcyon days before we knew cigarettes could really kill us, a staggering percentage of Americans smoked openly and often. They also drank a lot.
The infographic above, from The Advisory Board Company, clearly shows how the number of smokers has dropped precipitously — from 42% of Americans in 1965 to just 21% of Americans in 2005 — while our drinking habits have largely held steady.
With the exception of one especially hard-drinking decade (1975-1985), Americans have consumed about 8.4 litres of pure alcohol per year per person (that’s actually ticked up somewhat recently, to 8.8 litres in 2008). That would be equivalent to about nine shots of vodka a week. “Excessive drinking” is generally defined as 15+ drinks a week for men or 8+ drinks a week for women.
Smoking is still the number one underlying cause of death in the United States, and alcohol is number four.
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