Thursday, 11 December 2008

A novel way to look at cigarettes

Everyone, including every single smoker, knows that cigarettes are bad for you. But how bad? As usual, the real world defies our attempts to accurately capture its essence, and we often have to turn to tables and tables of data before getting any sort of answer.

At the end of last millennium, scientists in Britain took a different approach, and calculated the average amount that each cigarette shaves off your life. Their answer: 11 minutes.

Of course, such a round figure comes with a long list of caveats, since the figure "relies on averages, assumes the health effects of smoking are evenly spread throughout a smoker's lifetime and presupposes that the number of cigarettes smoked throughout a lifetime is constant."

But, it has the merit of being an in-your-face, striking statistic, as contrasted with the more common, easily-forgettable type. Along these lines, there's an online smoking calculator available that'll do the maths for you, and then morbidly tell you how much shorter you'll make your life should you continue, amongst other things. Another aspect of the calculator works out how much cigarettes are costing you, and comes up with surprisingly high figures!

Hat tip to AH for the heads up on the calculator

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