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C A L C U L U S 2

By The Pilgrims' Way

  On a warm sunny sunday afternoon in june, the three conspirators met in a sandstone cave on the north side of St Catherines Chapel. Protected from view behind a convenient gorse bush the three of us at the ripe old age of 12 lit up our first cigarettes. Cigarettes that had earlier been purchased at Candy Corner, the local tobacconist cum sweet shop. The old lady who ran it happily sold them to us assuming that they were for my mother, and never even queried the change in brand from Matinée to Players Weights. It would have been a little easier to have borrowed a dozen or so Piccadilly Cigarettes from the cigarette box in the living room - but in dealing with my father discretion was always deemed to be by far the superior part of valour.
  The effects of these few cigarettes appeared to us to be minimal and abandoned the idea of any further experimentation, wondering all the while what the fuss might be about.
  However, during Easter break in the spring of the very next year...

Excerpted from "Life", by the author

Calculus Continues...

  In the first section we took a quick look at the overall pressure to smoke cigarettes. This page will examine the factors that go make up this pressure with a view to refining the process.


  What is meant by 'intensity'? Some smokers get more out of one puff that another. Cut down from twenty cigarettes per day to three, and most smokers will take great care to extract as much as possible from those three cigarettes. Mostly by inhaling more deeply for a longer period, and by smoking the cigarette right down to the butt. This is not so easy to calculate. Ask a smoker how intensively he or she smokes and the answer will be subjective. For example the response, "I never inhale," is never true, since it is impossible not to inhale and smoke.

  This increase in intensity is ongoing and is mostly automatic. Part of a viscious spiral.

  1. The longer time a person smokes...
  2. The greater the resistence...
  3. The more cigarettes the smoker smokes...
  4. The worse the damage to the heart and lungs...
  5. The greater intensity is needed to get the same result...

  Eventually so much damage accrues that smoking reaches a point where it becomes fatal, where the damage becomes irreversible, where the next 100,000 cigarettes become ten times more lethal than the previous 100,000...

  This point is different for men and ladies,(ladies are far more vulnerable after smoking fewer cigarettes).

  By now the lungs are so damaged that it becomes even harder to draw on the cigarette and the desperation of the smoker becomes acute. He or she wants to draw harder on each cigarette but cannot. And now has to settle for an ever decreasing dose - a devilish addiction indeed!

  Because each successive cigarette is smoked more intensively it causes an increasing amount of damage, perhaps miniscule at first but gradually swelling in an exponential relationship. Is there a mathematical formula that would adequately describe this process for comparison purposes? What immediately comes to mind is the formula for compound interest. It makes sense, a farmer when planting crops hopes to compound the result; we are encouraged to save and put money in the bank in order to garner interest, we expect our initial investment to grow via the magic of compound interest. On the other hand via cigarette smoking we suck toxic chemicals into our lungs and expect (hope) there to be no compounding of results, when clearly this is the way nature works.

  Since each smoker is so different it is impossible to factor this in with any accuracy....What is important is getting the idea that smoking has more hidden dangers than any of us at first ever realise.

Is it Resistance or Tolerance to Nicotine(+)?

  Tolerance is variously ascribed as a fact of most, if not all, drug addictions. In the case of nicotine, scientists report that the systems in the body, ususally receptors in the brain that bind to the drug, get reduced by the body in a quest for stability, (how do the scientists know this? It must be difficult to count brain receptors). In the case of tobacco, this process seems to be initiated to mitigate the effects of nicotine(+). Thus the smoker thus has to ingest more and smoke more often to get the same result, that is; he or she has to up the intensity and the frequency of smoking.

  Clearly tolerance may not be the most appropriate use of language. What is being described is a process of resistance to something. Closing the doors and shutting the windows is a symptom of someone under siege. Nicotine is a poison, cigarettes are an attack upon the sanctity and health of the body and it will resist the onslaught. The smoker is literally laying siege to himself by smoking.

  How to calculate for this? Only wild guesses seem possible. One way would be to consider that resistance to any drug usually has a rapid onset and then grows more slowly over greater periods of time. This exactly paralells the siege of a city during mediaeval times, where such a siege might go on for decades. You can imagine the state of affairs that would eventually form up. The siege would become the normal way of life and effectively cripple the city, preventing it from fullfilling its normal functions...

  If this state of affairs were to continue, disease would take its toll and eventually all resistance would crumble. The besieging army could enter and take over the city and the smoker would now be smoking for smoking's sake. Matters would enter a new phase where either disease and death soon follow or the smoker and cigarettes become symbiotic...

  Just think of the incredible strangeness of smoking cigarettes. To deliberately cause knowing damage to self for the sake of personal vanity and pleasure. Consider the lack of respect for the body implied by endlessly laying seige to onself and then adjusting the nature of the siege in order to cheat disease. To straddle a fine line of resistance, knowing that if you win you die.

  Does the body eventually become used to this siege and then need this state of affairs for it to to continue? Is this in part the basis for addiction?. A bizarre circumstance reminscent of the latter part of the Korean war, that resulted in the stalemate of a mutual siege, one that has continued for almost fifty years....(an analogy where the communists represent the cigarettes...)

  If this approach has any merit then it should be detectable from individual case histories...

  Can resistance be quantified in such a way? What would be the time period? What does the experience of smoking indicate?

  Maximum resistance seems to be developed during the first three years of smoking. The process whereby the smoker becomes hardened to being a smoker, and a time period before serious disease onsets (for some). A time when the smoker rapidly gets to the point of smoking as many as 20 or even 40 cigarettes per day. If this is so, then much of the increase in consumption after this initial three years of 'stand-off' would then be due to the need to offset the diminished function of a damaged heart/lung system.

  Getting back to the theme of calculations; hypothetically resistance could have a linear relationship or could hold to some form of the inverse square law, it might even parallel Ohms law in electricity. (Where pressure to smoke is 'volts', intensity is 'amps' and thus pressure would equal intensity times resistance.) Without some scientific research there is no way of accurately telling. For now, here this will remain as tomorrows research for the interested...

Threshold - The Point of No Return

  Following on from the previous section on resistance...When is the point of no return reached?

  What is the number of cigarettes smoked that constitutes an upper threshold, that once passed seals the fate of any smoker? Any cigarettes smoked after this threshold was reached would show a marked increase in lethality. Assuming that there is, what would it be? Maybe it would occur when...

  1. 500,000 cigarettes had been smoked
  2. at a rate of ten puffs per cigarette
  3. each mid-level inhaled
  4. and smoked over a period of not more than thirty years,

  Or should it be more? or less? (maybe there are some actuarial tables in existence somewhere that can be turned to.)

  In real life the constitution of the smoker would probabaly have to somehow be taken into account and an individual threshold established. For example, someone whose father had emphysema and died at age 53 from a heart attack caused by smoking 20 cigarettes per day, might have a similar fate should he or she continue smoking. In this case there would be a much lower threshold...

  To put it in a nutshell...There is probably an upper threshold needing to be discovered but there is no lower one - smokers have been known to contract lung cancer after only six months of smoking, even secondhand smoke has damaged or killed the innocent. There seems to be an 'as yet undetermined' correlation with the genetic constitution of the smoker...

  To help further solve this riddle you could keep on smoking and sacrifice yourself to science...?

Let it Pass.


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