How Long Does Each Cigarette Take of or Knock Off Your Life? How Many Minutes or Hours?

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.

The BBC in 1999 stated it’s around 11 minutes.

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

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20 Responses to “How Long Does Each Cigarette Take of or Knock Off Your Life? How Many Minutes or Hours?” »»

  1. Comment by howsy | 01/11/06 at 7:37 am

    Nice blog here. Keep up the good work here. I always hate people smoking.

  2. Comment by ethan | 01/11/06 at 7:42 am

    That’s why we should treat smokers nicer because we all know they are more likely to die earlier. Does this make sense?

    Great informative blog you’ve got here.

  3. Comment by Quit Smoking | 01/11/06 at 8:39 am

    howsy: Thanks for the support, I’m doing my best as an ex-smoker to educate others and hopefully improve their lives too :)

    ethan: Thank you too :D Yah it kinda makes sense, prefer to let them know how they can help themselves though, and those around them. Remember if they are smoking near you, you are smoking too.. I will do my best to keep giving useful up to date info on smoking and quitting.

  4. Comment by sally | 10/02/06 at 9:58 pm


  5. Comment by nancyyy | 12/06/06 at 9:21 am

    i was just curious…im doing a report on smoking…how many minutes does smoking REALLY take off your life???

    thanks a bunch!


  6. Comment by Stop Smoking | 08/03/08 at 11:31 pm

    When you stop smoking, your risk of getting heart disease is halved after just one year. After you have quit for fifteen years, it’s almost as though you never smoked.

  7. Comment by 13 year old | 08/16/08 at 8:55 am

    I think we all know the effects of smoking
    I smoke every now and then when I’m stressed, I know what you’re thinking, a stupid 13 year old throwing away her life. I actually am quite smart for my age though. I think anti-smoking campagns(excuse the spelling) are ridiculous, we’re not all going to listen to them. The government is just wasting its money and time making these ridiculous campagns. We know what we’re putting into our bodies and we KNOW it’s not good for us, but that’s our choice isn’t it? We’re not going to listen to the government just because he tells us to stop are we?
    That’s all I have to say.

  8. Comment by steve | 10/02/08 at 10:25 pm

    hi have you given subliminals a try they work …

  9. Comment by cigarettes | 11/06/08 at 3:24 pm

    Im interested to know how on earth people can say a cigarette takes between 10-20 minutes of your life, I’m not stupid I know smoking is not good for you but to say each one takes a set amount off time of your life is pure speculation. Im trying to quit myself, but I just cannot take facts like that very serious.

  10. Comment by anonomouys | 03/04/09 at 11:14 pm

    I did not know that one cig takes away somuch life, i mean dang

  11. Comment by Nicole | 03/31/09 at 10:08 am

    my mom smokes and it makes me so sad she won’t be around as long as she could have.

  12. Comment by martha | 10/12/09 at 2:12 pm

    How can i quit HELP ME PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HURRY

  13. Comment by Cheyenne. | 02/28/10 at 7:17 am

    We all know the effects of smoking.
    Not all smokers get cancer, not all smokers get the effect of cigarettes.
    I’ve been smoking for about a year, but I don’t even smoke every week.
    The addiction is in your head. If it wasn’t, I’d be addicted by now.

  14. Comment by Boston | 09/17/10 at 8:59 pm

    how long does it take before the effects of a ciggarette cause harmful affects on the human body

  15. Comment by NO feelinqs chick | 11/17/10 at 11:55 am

    my dad and mom smokes..everyday i would pray that they would quit.
    dad been smoken for over 15 years
    mom resently started and it progressed over time
    i sometimes cry …. :(

  16. Comment by Ms. Lady | 04/01/11 at 3:04 pm

    @Cheyenne – My friend is just like you, she told me that its just all in your head (the addiction). She says her proof is that she doesnt even think about smoking often and she doesnt ‘crave’ it like others. She only smokes once every two months or something like that.

    A lot of my friends smoke (and we are 13/14) and it makes me sad too. Half of my grandmas siblings have died because of smoking. At first she had eight older siblings, now she only has one. Her whole life she has been surronded by smokers and I feel really bad for her because she married one too. I love my grandpa, though.

    And – GREAT JOB! :D I dont even know you, but I dont have to be proud of you. :3 I think your really smart for quiting, and the facts you posted helped me on a essay I was doing for language arts. YOUR AWESOME!~!

    now to get my grandpa to quit……

  17. Comment by jessy | 09/06/11 at 6:52 pm

    hi ya i had to stop smoking casue it always made me sleeply

  18. Comment by jesse willi | 11/18/11 at 12:09 am

    Stupid fucking facts .I love smoking

  19. Comment by skiip | 03/03/13 at 2:12 am

    I need help to quit smoking! Who knew it can be so complicated!?!, I’ve been wanting to quit for about a year now. But every time I go to the hospital and they ask me if I want to quit smoking I say, yes. But, they forget to give me whatever information it is about quitting. This small town hospital is ridiculous. PLEASE HELP.!

  20. Comment by Matilda | 03/08/13 at 5:40 am

    I am ten years old. My dad said he had quit, but a few minuets ago I found a unopened pack of cigarettes, my dad admitted to it, he been smoking nearly all his life, I don’t want him to die! Help me!

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