How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking Due to World Pollution Levels Mapped
Every day, the average adult inhales about 11 thousand liters of air. While getting outside and breathing in fresh air has many health benefits, the truth is that not all air is good for you.
Airborne pollutants are one of the most significant sources of toxic exposure known to humanity and significantly impact human health. According to one assessment from the World Health Organization, air pollution contributes to 7 million premature deaths worldwide every year.
The hazards of smoking cigarettes are well-published. But while stopping smoking is a straightforward method to decrease exposure to toxins and improve overall health, it is less uncomplicated to avoid exposure to the many toxins that contaminate the indoor and outdoor air we breathe daily. Whether you are a smoker or not.
Air quality differs considerably worldwide, and in many parts of the globe, the adverse health effects of poor air quality are comparable to smoking hundreds of cigarettes a year. To better communicate the health hazards of air pollution, HouseFresh estimated the number of cigarettes people worldwide are indirectly smoking because of poor air quality.
Table of Contents
- Research Findings
- How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking Each Year in Capital Cities
- How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major U.S. Cities
- How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major Canadian Cities
- How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major UK Cities
- How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major Australian Cities
- Many cities with the worst air quality are in developing economies of the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and African countries.
- Dhaka, in Bangladesh, has the worst air pollution among any capital city.
- Bern, in Switzerland, has the cleanest air of any capital city in the world.
- In California, air pollution because of wildfires and car emissions can offset the positive health consequences of low smoking incidence.
How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking Each Year in Capital Cities
While the global smoking rate has fallen over the past two decades, many health gains have been offset by increasing air pollution. Exposure to air pollution severely affects the respiratory system and can have negative health impacts, equivalent to smoking multiple cigarettes daily. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, residents indirectly smoke 1,176 cigarettes a year because of poor air quality – the most of any capital city.
The Top 20 Capital Cities Where You’re Indirectly Smoking the Most Cigarettes
Air pollution is often worse in fast-growing, developing areas in Southeast Asia and Africa, where increased motor vehicle use and industrial growth contribute to dangerous levels of air pollution. In Baghdad, residents inhale the equivalent of 1,009 cigarettes a year – the most of any city outside of Dhaka. The most polluted African city is N’Djamena, Chad, where residents inhale the equivalent of 909 cigarettes annually.
How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major U.S. Cities
While just 12.2% of adults in Los Angeles smoke – the 10th lowest smoking rate of any metro area – healthy behaviors may be offset by poor air quality. Because of severe air pollution, LA residents smoke the equivalent of 193 cigarettes a year – by far the most of any U.S. city. Two other cities in California – San Diego and Fresno – rank among the top 10 cities in the US with the worst air pollution.
How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major Canadian Cities
According to Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium researchers, 86% of Canadians live in areas where airborne fine particulate matter exceeds WHO guidelines. In Montreal, residents inhale the equivalent of 124 cigarettes per year – the most of any city in Canada. Half of the 16 cities with the worst air quality in Canada – Windsor, Hamilton, and Kitchener, among them – are located in Ontario.
How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major UK Cities
Many cities with the worst air pollution in the UK are in the southeast. In Northampton, for instance, residents inhale the equivalent of 189 cigarettes a year because of poor air quality – the most of any city in the country. Outside of Southern England, the most polluted city is Kingston upon Hull, where residents indirectly inhale the equivalent of 161 cigarettes annually.
How Many Cigarettes You’re Indirectly Smoking in Major Australian Cities
While Australia has some of the cleanest air of any country, some cities are more polluted than others. In Darwin, Northern Territory, residents inhale the equivalent of 133 cigarettes a year because of poor air quality – the most of any Australian city. Outside of Darwin, many of the cities with the worst air quality – Melbourne and Geelong, for example – are located in the state of Victoria.
To measure the number of cigarettes people worldwide are indirectly smoking because of poor air quality, HouseFresh examined data on median PM2.5 concentrations in cities worldwide from AQICN.org and converted it to the equivalent number of cigarettes passively smoked per year in terms of adverse health effects utilizing a formula from Berkeley Earth.
AQICN.org presents data from cities worldwide where different air quality measurements are taken. One of the primary air pollutants measured is PM2.5, or particles smaller than 2.5 microns. Berkeley’s Earth describes a rule of thumb that compares exposure to PM2.5 particles to cigarettes smoked: one cigarette per day is the rough equivalent of a PM2.5 level of 22 µg/m3.
Considering this equivalence, the HouseFresh team gathered AQI PM2.5 data from 2022 for each country’s capital city and converted the index to PM2.5 concentration. We repeated the process for major cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
Each city data comes either from aqicn.org’s COVID-19 dataset (which collects the daily median air pollutant levels based on various air quality stations in each city) or from the most centrical air quality station available. The team discarded cities where the closest air quality station was outside of the city or metropolitan area. Also, stations with irregular registries for 2022 were discarded.
The HouseFresh team took the average daily median AQI PM2.5 during 2022 as the average AQI PM2.5 in the city. They converted that value to cigarettes as per Berkeley’s Earth rule-of-thumb and multiplied the result by 365 to get how many cigarettes you have indirectly smoked during a year.
This is a stupid comparison and offensive to those of us who are clean air people. The effect on a person’s lungs of a direct inhalation of nicotine smoke cannot be compared to someone who does not, and never has, used toxic products such as nicotine. Besides, you have not taken into account the toxic waste in the atmosphere of the nicotine smoke itself. Maybe it is second-hand, and third-hand, smoke that is the culprit in these urban areas that you rank.