The Tobacco Mentality, The Truth About Men, Etc. takes

Where does major surgery stand on a hierarchy of stressful situations? For respondents to a poll by Self, it rates a 7.7 on a scale of 10—worse than a lovers’ quarrel (average score: 7) but not as bad as getting fired (8.7). Having “tons of work to do and little control over doing it” merited a 5.8, well above the aggravation of being stuck in a traffic jam (3.3). The anxiety associated with “making a good first impression” measured a modest 4 on Self’s stress scale.

Anti-smoking ads sometimes seem inclined to stigmatize smokers rather than reason with them. Now, a study by medical researchers suggests a disproportionate number of smokers may indeed be unreasonable. As described in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research found a distinct correlation between smoking and mental illness. Among Americans with no history of mental illness, 22.5 percent were smokers; among those with mental illness during the past month, 41 percent were smokers. The rate for those who had suffered mentalillness at some point in their lives fell in between (34.8 percent). All in all, “Persons with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons but have substantial quit rates.”

The pride we take in our human children is always restrained by a fear that Junior could get expelled from school or arrested for juvenile delinquency any day now. The nonhumans in our households tend to be more predictable, so we can give free rein to our delight in their brilliance. A campaign for a San Francisco pet shop (via Cornyn + Partners of that city) makes the most of this sentiment. The ad shown here also settles the question, “How many iguanas does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”

Victim class of the week: bodybuilders who suffer from “reverse anorexia.” According to a BBC News report on a British study, bodybuilders often get hooked on training—thus making themselves susceptible to injuries and even immune-system woes. Those afflicted by reverse anorexia “believe that their muscles are smaller than they actually are, and train harder as a result.”

How long can men sustain the fiction that they don’t like to shop? The retail statistics for numerous male-skewing products make it clear the traditional aversion has faded. One factor in this consumer-cultural shift is the increasing specialization of retail outlets. Nowadays, a man need no longer walk past mountains of feminine-hygiene products on his way to the power tools, fishing rods and barbecue-grill accessories. Still, stereotypes die hard, and men feel that a distaste for shopping is one of the essential masculine traits. An ad for Arctic Cat all-terrain vehicles—a manly product line if ever there was one—exploits this tendency, taking the frilly edge off ofshopping by placing it in the same headline as hunting and fishing. Minneapolis-based Periscope created the ad.

Social pressure does the darndest things. As recounted in Newsweek, an anthropologist from the University of Michigan studied couples who’d recently had a second child or planned to do so. She found they’d been subjected to “increasingly intense social pressure to produce another baby as soon as their first child reached the age of 2.”

Will no one defend the honor of fruitcake? Each Christmas, we see at least a few ads that make fruitcake the butt of their jokes. An ad could cut through the clutter by saying something unambiguously nice about the put-upon confection. An ad for Condé Nast’s straddles the line, having its fruitcake and eating it too. It plays on readers’ aversion to garden-variety fruitcake as a way of drumming up interest in the foodie Web site’s recipe for one that’s actually tasty. “Stop the insanity. This year serve real fruitcake.” The agency for the ad is a Columbus, Ohio, shop named Resource.