But as it turns out we don't need smarmy Dave's image after all. Not when we have the latest NHS "smoking damages your sex life" campaign. As if being single is not hard enough in London, being single and a smoker is now the mating equivalent of being ginger and making it in Hollywood. But finally for once the vanity burden is not quarantined to women. The adverts attack the impact of smoking on impotence and erectile dysfunction as well as 'minging teeth' and 'cat's bum mouth.'
So, as the Guardian asks today 'are we so image conscious that vanity concerns come before health and survival?' We would have to say yes when it comes to smoking. Because vanity (i.e. looking cool) is intrinsic to why most of us took that first puff. I am reminded of an advert from my grandmother's generation of an illustrious glamour babe (although back then donned in a floor-length poodle skirt not hot pants) dragging away on a fag end with the caption above saying 'Not all girls who smoke are bad, but all bad girls smoke.' And we don't need to look further than Kate Moss's £30 million comeback to understand the power of that image.
Which is why the NHS is clever to target smokers with their vanity. But given the growing obesity epidemic, how do we similarly warn over eaters? In the age of the skinny size zero backlash, what vanity strategy could NHS adverts employ to combat the battle of the bulge? A tricky one because as any smoker knows, when faced with temptation our health concerns go up in smoke.
To find out more about how smoking kills your chances of getting a date:
Visit the two microsites supporting the NHS line: www.stayinghard.info for men and www.uglysmoking.info for women.