Brian Edwards Media

Why smoking in your car and being a beautiful woman can cost you dearly!

A couple of recent media items that caught my attention:

On the Australian version of Highway Patrol, a cop pulled over a car because the parents of a child in the back seat were smoking. It is apparently illegal in Oz to smoke in a car in which a child is a passenger. The cop’s intention was to give the driver a warning, but a torrent of obscene abuse from the driver’s wife persuaded him to give both of them tickets, the husband for breaking the non-smoking with kids in the car rule, and the wife for obscenity in a public place. (A couple of teenagers were walking past as she turned the air blue.)

The wife’s argument was essentially that the cop should be chasing ‘real law-breakers’, speeders, drunk drivers and the like, not persecuting someone smoking in their own car which was essentially a private space much like one’s home.

This was an interesting argument, which seemed to have some substance. You could argue that traffic laws ought to deal with offences related to safety on the road and not to how parents choose to act around their children. As far as I know, it isn’t against the law for parents to smoke in their own homes, or  for pregnant women or nursing mothers to smoke. Yet all three are almost certainly damaging their offsprings’ health. So why should a car be any different?  

The answer presumably is that you can police people smoking while their kids are in the car, but if you tried to police people smoking in their own homes the cries of ‘Nanny State’ would resonate from Canberra to Wellington and beyond.

There’s clearly an inconsistency here. If it’s illegal to turn your children into passive smokers in a car, it ought to be illegal to turn them into passive smokers in your living room, kitchen or anywhere else. And yes, a car is a more confined space than your living room or kitchen, but, on the other hand, your kids probably spend far more time at home with you than they do in the car.

To resolve this inconsistency you could either: bring in a new law making it illegal to smoke near children, your own or anyone else’s; or dump the law about not smoking in cars with children present.

You be the judge.


An item from the Independent reprinted in this morning’s Herald was headed, ‘It pays not to be too attractive if you’re a woman looking for a job’.

This was the outcome of a study by two Israeli academics who sent out  more than 5000 CVs for over 2500 advertised job openings. For each application they sent two CVs, one without a picture and the other containing a picture of either an attractive-looking man or woman or a plain-looking man or woman.

The academics found that 20 per cent of the attractive men received a response to their applications, compared with 14 per cent of men who did not include a picture and nine per cent who had less-than ideal looks.

However, attractive women were called to be interviewed for a position less often than both plain-looking women or women who had no picture on their resume.

Women who attached no picture to their CV were 22 per cent more likely to receive a response than women with a plain picture – and 30 per cent more likely than women with an attractive picture.

Explanation? Well it turned out that in 24 of the 25 companies surveyed (that’s 96%) the recruiter was female. What’s more, 67% of them were young and single. These were qualities, the academics concluded, ‘more likely to be associated with a jealous response when confronted with a young, attractive competitor in the workplace. Indeed, the evidence points to female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace as a primary reason for their penalisation in recruitment.’


We must assume that it was the same female recruiters who where much keener on having  the attractive guys as colleagues than plain guys or the men who hadn’t sent a picture.  

I found this article both concerning and cheering. Concerning because I abhor discrimination in any area of life (and I’m not quite the Adonis I used to be); and cheering because it puts paid to the idea that it’s only men who regard the opposite sex as eye candy or sexual fodder.

However, due to the remarkable gender imbalance among Israeli recruiters, what the survey doesn’t tell us is what the results would have been if 96% of them had been men. Would they have rushed to employ gorgeous female applicants, while in turn rejecting hunky Alpha males?  

I very much doubt it. We men are ruled by our heads not our hearts and jealousy is foreign to our natures.

However, in the short term, the safest option for men and women alike would seem to be not to attach a photo of yourself to any job application. Let them find out the wonderful or ghastly truth about you – too ugly, too beautiful – once you get to the interview stage. That should give you a much better chance of suing the bastards for gender discrimination. 

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  1. Hmmm, well, Brian, as someone who worked in an environment where the recruitment officer was young, male and, well, some may say ‘sleazy'; we ended up with a lot more pretty young female recruits than any other gender or age. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but when some were found to not even meet the basic competency levels after months in the job, well…

    BE: ‘Well’ indeed! A most unsatisfactory situation. And really, as I’m sure you’ll agree, there is a lot ‘wrong with that’.

  2. Car smoking? My shame is that a generation ago I smoked with the kids in the car. They would protest but I would just open a window. Now? No way – partly because I don’t smoke.
    Highway Patrols cover the full Law don’t they? Here they ping those in a car who are carrying marijuana don’t they?

    BE: Judy and I share your shame. When we were first together, some 30 years ago, we were both pretty well chain smokers. And naturally we both smoked in the car, with or without kids as passengers. And, like your kids, they did protest. And, like you, the very best we would do was open a window – slightly and only if it wasn’t a cold or rainy day. Totally shocking, but in tune with the thinking of the times that smokers had a right to smoke pretty well regardless of others. Some smokers still have that attitude. I haven’t smoked now for almost 25 years, Judy for a little less. My attitude now is that people are entitled to harm themselves by smoking but not to harm others. I’m in favour of smoking being against the law in any public place. Not so sure about making it illegal to smoke in your own home if you have kids. I’m inclined to think that education does work in the long term. I’m horrified now by how I behaved in my 20s, 30s, 40s. With a little legislative encouragement people do learn eventually.

  3. We men are ruled by our heads not our hearts and jealousy is foreign to our natures.

    i’m really hoping that this bit is satire, and not seriously meant. but on the offchance that it is a genuine belief, i’d suggest you google “male jealousy” & have a read.

    BE: No way Jose! That could undermine my entire philosophy.

  4. Wouldn’t the car be spewing out more toxic gases than the couple smoking. Stupid cop…

    BE: The car might well be spewing out more toxic gases than the couple smoking. But what your argument boils down to is that if we can’t fix all the problems, there’s no point in fixing any. Discouraging people from turning their children into passive smokers may be a small improvement, but it’s an improvement nonetheless.

  5. I cringe when I see children in a car with an adult smoking.Change the law.
    As for the discrimination its always been my assumption that its a fact of life.The problem is how to prove it.Age is another form of discrimination so I would consider an older less than pretty women would have no chance with a male employer.Ive actually been in a interview situation where the employer has secretly said, too old ,dont like the look of her ,etc.

  6. What you’re failing to recognise Brian is that the interiors of (most) cars are much smaller and more confined than the interiors of (most) houses. A child placed in a car next to someone who is smoking is likely to receive much more second-hand smoke than a child who is in the same house or room as someone who is smoking (obviously there will be some exceptions to this rule). Many studies have shown that putting the window down doesn’t really alleviate the situation either.

    Additionally, you have clearly placed far too little weight on the argument (that you yourself identified) that the reason for the inconsistency in the law is because it is easier to enforce a law banning smoking around children in cars than it is to enforce a law banning smoking around children in houses. This is indeed a powerful argument – it is probably the true justification for the inconsistency and deserves more respect than you gave it by simply bringing it up and then dismissing it without even bothering to analyse it. The fact is that it would be nigh on impossible to enforce a smoking ban in houses (well at least without breaching numerous human rights) but just because the State is unable to prevent harm in some circumstances doesn’t mean that they should not strive to prevent that same harm from occurring in other circumstances where it does have the ability to intervene.

    BE: I don’t disagree with any of that. (See my reply to ‘hellonearthis’.) I didn’t go into greater detail on the issue because, as I indicated, I wanted readers to judge for themselves.

  7. I guess the bigger question here is the scope of state powers. Should the state have the power or right to censor behavior like smoking?
    On a pragmatic angle is there more efficacy in an educational approach over the basic censor/threat approach? The aussy example suggests the censor approach risks pissing people off and in the end achieves nothing.
    In my opinion the state has no place in deciding what is or is not good for me.
    If my behavior will impact on others – hell I feel divided about the states rights to intervene – its a matter of scale and level of impact – eg swearing in a public place – the state can just bugger off – affecting someone’s health … maybe they have a place.

    BE: Yes, the core issue always has to be whether one person’s behaviour harms someone else. We’re all entitled to kill ourselves by smoking, though there may well be harm there to one’s family who are pained and possibly disadvantaged in a number of ways by one’s suffering and death. You might consider that a borderline example. But what you are not entitled to do is harm my health or even subject me to discomfort by smoking anywhere near me.

  8. Kudos to Chad for a very nicely constructed post. I hadn’t formed an opinion until I read his contribution, and I found it persuasive.

    The opposite of kudos to pjr who wrote this;

    > Age is another form of discrimination so I would consider an older less than pretty women would have no chance with a male employer

    This makes no sense at all unless you consider all male employers vacuous.

  9. “I very much doubt it. We men are ruled by our heads not our hearts and jealousy is foreign to our natures.”

    Love it!

  10. Good to see that Israeli academic are keeping themselves busy with serious research.

  11. It is amazing that there are millions of healthy adults walking the streets who were brought up in smoky homes/cars not to mention being exposed to germs because mothers of 50 years ago were grossly negligent in not spraying every surface with antiseptic. Could there be a more blatant example of child abuse?

    Yes, I know one should not smoke near anyone let alone kids and I would not if I still smoked but I would have thought the police could be more usefully occupied. I suppose though it is easier to police errant smokers than it is to police parents who hit their children or emotionally neglect them.

    As to the second isssue it is just another example of a survey that is a total waste of time other than to keep the otherwise unemployable off the street. All it tells us is the bleeding obvious. Everyone of us makes judgements, some more strongly than others, based on what people look like. For that reason I have always considered it stupid to include a photo with a CV. It enables the recipient to make and instant, and possibly unfavourable judgement, without the opportunity to change that judgement as occurs in a face to face meeting.

    BE: “It is amazing that there are millions of healthy adults walking the streets who were brought up in smoky homes/cars…” I didn’t know that, Ben. Perhaps you could refer me to your source for this fascinating fact?

  12. It really does pay to be polite when you are pulled over by the police. I was stopped for speeding doing 75km in a 70km zone. The sign had recently been extended further out on the city limits and I was in the wrong. As soon as I passed the cop car on the other side of the road, I realised I was over the speed limit and immediately pulled over as I saw he was doing a u turn and coming after me. The cop came over and asked why I was speeding and I said I had no real excuse and that I had forgotten that the 70km zone had been extended. I was polite, he was polite and he let me off with a warning. It saved him some paper work, saved me sending some money to the government and I never go above the speed limit in that area.

    BE: My philosophy exactly.

  13. Response Percentage if the attractive/unattractive woman/man happened to be Palestinian ? In Apatheid Israel: A Big Zero

  14. I believe that CV photo study backs up my personal experience.

    I’ve yet to get any potential employer to respond to a CV I’ve sent them, particularly when it is accompanied by a photograph of myself as a beautiful woman.

  15. As a child in London (and i have no doubt Belfast was similar) smoking was the norm. My own mother smoked and I remember going to friends houses and in their cars where smoking was normal.

    Anyone who is over 50 has somehow survived being brought up in conditions that today would supposedly constitute child abuse.

  16. Bill its my experience with 5 employers I have worked for.Its almost a culture in the places I have worked.I would like to add to the discrimination of family members as well,one manager would not employ related people, with his reasoning that if someone died they would all be away at the funeral.I also note that family caregivers have been discriminated against by the Ministry of Health.
    I concede that not all men are as vacuous as I suggested .

  17. Bill Foster: “This makes no sense at all unless you consider all male employers vacuous”.

    Not quite. But the stirring in the loins, often trumps the brain.

  18. We non-smokers actually don’t give a damn if smokers smoke themselves to death, just as long as they don’t do it anywhere near us – and especially not near defenceless children.

    BE: Amen to that!

  19. Re: “The wife’s argument was essentially that the cop should be chasing ‘real law-breakers’, speeders, drunk drivers and the like, not persecuting someone smoking in their own car which was essentially a private space much like one’s home”.

    Imagine if the said car was involved in an accident commensurate with the most graphical seen in road safety messages (authorities in Australia have produced 25 years worth) with severe casualties.

    The general public would appreciate why an accident scenario implies the need to account for hazards and take precautions (for the sake of prevention). An accident is fsr more obvious and measurable by occuring in a shorter space of time.

    The effects of smoking, by contrast, do not manifest themselves immediately, yet also need to be accounted for as hazardous. If the woman was truly consistent in her response to the cop, she would have acknowledged the ‘private space’ that is her own childs heart & lungs, brain (etc) that smoking harms. But she didn’t do that, and is potentially engaging in child abuse.

    The contemporary defences of smoking are out of proportion with smoking harm, and suggest that the notion of ‘informed choice’ only means the existence and supply of information rather than its optimal reception.

    Re: consistency of argument (if in cars, why not homes?), her argument indicates she is still ignorant of the long-term effects and allows smoking around children there also.

    Ideally, parents should be so independently informed that there’s no need for government intervention (I’m not arguing government step in there, but you shudder to think about what’s happening if smoking is as harmful as documented evidence states)

    If the criteria for good living includes decision-making independent of government intervention, then it must be remembered smoking will not discriminate on the basis of political outlook.

    If that is the expectation, then surely it implies adult levels of being ‘informed’ is sufficient enough to look after the welfare of their own flesh and blood?

    This is something not evident in the ‘personal space’ argument above, nor in those who smoke around others (even if it is their own home).

    Would their concern be greater if the harmful effects were more evident to them?