On average it’s believed each cigarette costs us between 5 and 20 minutes of our lives.
The popular “life saved” calculation used by many who quit smoking estimates life saved at 5 minutes per cigarette not smoked. Is this a real number many people ask.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta says that the “average smoker” dies 7 years earlier than the average non-smoker.
Let’s say for now the average smoker starts around age 17 and smokes about a pack a day for 50 years. If the life span is 74 years then the 7 year penalty for smoking means this person will die around age 67.
This average smoker would smoke 365,250 ciggarettes. If the CDC is correct, these 365,250 cigarettes would equal to 7 years of “life lost” or about 10 minutes “life lost” per cigarette smoked.
If we smoke one ciggarette the harm of that cigarette is practically nil. By smoking a second cigarette the accumulated harm goes up insignificantly. As we keep smoking, the harm rises, slightly at first and then more rapidly, chopping off more and more time from our lifespan. Eventually the accumulated harm causes us to die 7 years earlier than if we smoked.
If we quit after the first cigarette we can expect to live a full life. By smoking a second cigarette our lifespan drops insignificantly. The longer we wait to quit, our lifespan drops, slightly at first and then more rapidly. Eventually there’s seemingly little benefit to quitting and we die 7 years earlier than if we smoked.
To begin, “life shortened” by smoking a cigarete should be the exact opposite of the “life saved” by not smoking that cigarette.
We can take each of the 364,249 cigarettes not smoked, spread them across 7 years and wind up with a straight-line average of 10 minutes of life saved per ciggarete not smoked.
There’s an unhappiness with this straight-line average. The first cigarettes caused little harm so why give each ten minutes of life saved? Because it works out on average and the numbers add up.
As mentioned earlier, cigarettes cause accumulative harm. This accumulative harm rises slowly, insignificantly at first and later exponentially.
Remember that a harm per cigarette doesn’t exist. Each cigarette smoked is really a new accumulative total of harm, harmful but not independently harmful. It doesn’t matter that the last cigarette of a lifelong smoker causes little harm because they are dying anyway. It’s still added to the total accumulative harm. It doesn’t matter that the first cigarettes we smoked might have statistically insignificant harm – it still gets added.
For me right now its:
I have stopped smoking for 3 Months, 3 Days, 17 hours, 23 minutes and 48 seconds (95 days). I have saved a massive $670.06 by not smoking 1,914 stinky cigarettes. I have saved an awesome 6 Days, 15 hours and 30 minutes of my life. My Quit Date: 8/10/2005 3:00 AM