# Cigarettes and Lifespan

I read this in grade school (10 years ago) and wanted to know if it is founded in truth, or if it is BS.

“Smoking one cigarette takes away 5 and a half minutes from your life”

I don’t smoke, and dont intend to start. I am just curious to know how this claim can be made.

Sounds pretty close. I’ve heard that on average, smokers live 8-10 years shorter than non-smokers. So, in doing the math:

Let’s say someone started at 15, and smoked for 50 years, which is about 10 years less than “normal” average life expectancy.

50 years * 365.25 days * 30 cigarettes per day (pack and a half–don’t know what is “average” consumption anymore) = 73 = 547,875 cigarettes in a lifetime.

10 years is approximately 5,259,600 minutes.

Dividing 547,875 into 5,259,600 = 9.6 minutes per cigarette.

You can fiddle with the numbers a little bit, and probably end up with something closer to 5½ minutes, though.

But the statement as you’ve provided is almost certainly BS. There’s no way it can be proved (or disproved, for that matter), that if a person smokes one cigarette in a lifetime, that he/she will die 5-10 minutes sooner.

So shouldn’t the U.S. government promote cigarette smoking? It would seem that if everyone smoked the social security funding problem would be solved. And since older people consume many more dollars of healthcare, universal smoking should go a long way towards solving this ever rising cost. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

Kids: Just say yes!

In the Czech Republic there was a scandal over cigarette companies allegedly promoting their product in that country to some government officials - adding that a large number of smokers would reduce the amount of elderly people who needed public support.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1443098.stm

From my observations about cigarette smokers, it’s not the dying they have to worry about, it’s the totally miserable years preceding death. My father-in-law hacked himself to death, dying finally at 59; my ex just had surgery to remove a bladder cancer, caused, according to his surgeon, by smoking (who knew?). Women who smoke look like wrinkled up old hags by 60 with a grey pallor. As far as life span, the law of large number obviously applies so trying to apply that statement to an individual is meaningless. I think the question should be how many good years does smoking a pack a day take off your life?