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Economics 101 at Big Tobacco U.

  "Let's hear it for the tobacco industry! The latest news from the jovial operators of this express service to the Pearly Gates comes from the Czech Republic.
  Philip Morris officials have been passing around an economic analysis that came up with the delightful finding that the early death of Czech smokers is good for the economy.
  Yes, indeed. We should all kick back, light up and savour this joyous data.
  Philip Morris comissioned the analysis, which was done by the consulting firm Arthur D. Little International. In compiling the many "positive" effects of smoking, the report unabashedly cited the "heath-care cost savings due to early mortality."
  The report was very clear about this. By bumping off a portion of the population, Big Tobacco was saving the Czech government millions.....

...As the death toll mounted to the stratosphere, the tobacco companies' preferred strategy had always been to to avoid any reference to the murderous aspect of their product. Now, at least in the Czech Republic, Philip Morris officials are embracing the lethality of cigarettes, and trying to market that as a good thing. It makes you wonder what they are smoking.
There are two problems with the Philip Morris report. The first is the brazen and profoundly unethical disregard for the value of human life itself. The second is the fact that the ecomomic benefits that are supposed to accrue from the early death of smokers are as ephemeral as smoke itself.....

...Once you buy into the moral treachery of the Philip Morris position, the potential for human sacrifice as a matter of public economic policy becomes explicit, and maybe even compelling..... "

Excerpted from Bob Herbert, New York Times, 23rd july 2001...


  So much for Big Tobacco U!... What follows is an attempt at Economics 101 at Chronic Smokers' U, a research project for the enjoyment of the mathematically inclined smoker.

  What is proposed is a research into identifying the elements that combine in cigarette smoking. Finding out if there is a reasonable way to quantify them and make comparative assessments.

  The results might turn out to be useful for helping to measure such elements as:

  1. The pressures upon the smoker to smoke.
  2. The degree of addiction.
  3. The damage already done to the heart and lungs.
  4. How close the smoker has come to contracting a chronic or fatal disease.
  5. How close the smoker has come to having a stroke.
  6. How many years would it take for a smoker who stops smoking to finally become free of craving cigarettes.
  7. How long will it take for the same smoker to be free from most of the damage smoking caused to his or her health.
  8. How long will it take for the psychological effects of smoking to straighten out and clear up.

  This list is too large in its scope to be fully tackled here - it would need the assistance of a fully equiped medical research facility. This attempt will limit itself to exploring what can be done with information that can be gathered from living smokers.

  To begin we shall need to marshal the neccesary facts, those facts that are the quantitive story of the smoker's life...

Another Survey

  This survey will concentrate on recall. Try to be exact as you can, but it will not always be easy to remember. A rough guide will suffice protem, so make your best stab at it for now. However the difference between smoking 400,000 and 500,000 cigarettes can be devastating, and are urged to improve in recall and refine the results. If you follow the examples it should be easy to get the hang of it ...

  1. How old are you now?
  2. How old were you when you first started smoking on a regular basis?
  3. For How long have you been smoking?
  4. How many cigarettes have you so far smoked during your life?
  5. How many cigarettes do you currently smoke each day?
  6. Frequency, on average over your entire smoking lifetime, how many cigarettes did you smoke per day?
  7. Approximately how many cigarettes did you smoke in the last nine months?

Here follows a specimen survey result, using the example of a middle-aged forty-five cigarette per day smoker. (Nowadays, with all the smoking bans, a 45 cigarette per day habit might well be impossible to sustain). ....

Answer to question number....

  1.   .....45 years old
  2.   .....16 years old
  3.   .....29 years
  4.   .....344,925 cigarettes so far, the calculation of this is as follows...

    •   Supposing cigarette smoking began at sixteen with five per day until eighteen (inclusive)(3 years). Then that would be 5475 cigarettes, or about 274 packs..
    •   Then from nineteen to twenty one (inclusive)(3 years) say fifteen cigarettes per day. Then that would be about 16,425 cigarettes, or about 821 packs..
    •   Then from twenty two to twenty seven (inclusive)(6 years) life can be quite stressful and ramp up the smoking. So say on average thirty per day over six years, would be 65,700 cigarettes, or about 3285 packs.
    •   Then from twenty eight to thirty nine (inclusive) (12 years) smoking might reach an average of forty cigarettes per day, or about 175,200 cigarettes, or about 8760 packs...
    •   Then say from forty onwards it might level off at say 45 cigarettes per day or 16,425 cigarettes per year, or about 821 packs per year.
    •   So from forty to forty four (inclusive)(5 years) at forty five cigarettes per day, would come to 82,125 cigarettes or about 4106 packs....
    •   So from the age of starting to the beginning of the fortieth year...13,140 packs or 262,800 individual cigarettes have been smoked. Then add another 82,125 cigarettes for the next five years for a grand total of 344,925 cigarettes....
    •   Note: A smoker who has solidly smoked forty-five cigarettes per day from the age of sixteen to sixty-nine(inclusive)(54 years) will have smoked 886,950 cigarettes.

  5.   .....45 cigarettes per day.
  6.   .....32.5 cigarettes per day on average.(see section on frequency, below)
  7.   .....12,285 cigarettes per nine months.


  The history of most smokers indicates that several different factors combine to promote cigarette consumption, both on a regular and on an increasing basis....

  1. Every day the typical smoker smokes a 'quota' of cigarettes.
  2. The functioning of the heart and lungs deteriorates with with each puff. Each day it gets a little bit harder to get the regular dose of nicotine(+) from the same number of cigarettes.
  3. Resistance (tolerance?) to nicotine increases with use and promotes the need to smoke more intensively and more often.
  4. The life circumstances surrounding a smoker can press for the need to smoke more or less cigarettes.
  5. Increasing age with its accompanying deteriorating health are a factor.
  6. Genetics and Gender play a part.
  7. Psychologies of all kinds and their interactions influence smoking patterns.

  Like the stock market, in spite of all the fluctuations, the trend is usually one of a steady increase (in consumption).

  Can some of these factors be somehow quantified? even if it is only for comparision purposes. Can an overall pressure to smoke index be calculated? Is there a way to assess the damage smoking causes to health? These numbers might be useful to someone wishing to get rid of cigarettes... This matter has consistently fascinated the author, but the answers prove elusive. Here follows the current best attempt...


  How to measure this? The number of cigarettes smoked during several different smokers' smoking lives might be the same. But the number of years it took to smoke them might be different. For example: There is a difference in frequency between smoker A who smoked ten cigarettes per day over forty years (400 times 365 cigarettes) and smoker B who smoked twenty cigarettes per day over twenty years (also 400 times 365 cigarettes), even though the number of cigarettes smoked is the same for either case.

  Providing both smokers smoke in similar ways; smoker B is using up his smokng life more rapidly than smoker A.

  There are many ways to make an effective comparison...this one calcualtes a simple lifetime average:

  1. Calculate the total number of all cigarettes the smoker has so far smoked.
  2. Take the number of years the smoker has been smoking and
  3. calculate the average number of cigarettes smoked each year, by dividing the total number of cigarettes smoked by the total number of years the smoker has been smoking.
  4. Express this as the number of cigarettes on average that were smoked each day.

  Continuing with the example of the 45 year old smoker who has smoked since he was 16, should help to make things clear:

  1. The smoker has smoked 344,925 cigarettes
  2. These have been smoked over 29 years
  3. The average number smoked is 11894 cigarettes per year (344,925 divided by 29)
  4. The frequency would be 32.586 (11894 divided by 365)

  What this means is that his smoking was more frequent by a factor of 32.586 than a smoker who had only smoked one per day during the same number of years.

Pressure to smoke

  This presupposes that the number of cigarettes a person smokes per day is a measure of what drives him or her to smoke each day...

  For every smoker there is a compelling urge to smoke cigarettes each and every day. It starts upon waking and continues until bedtime. It never lets up. As learned from previous research there maybe one or several different urges prompting the smoker to smoke at any given moment. For example: using a regular 45 cigarette per day smoker, in a typical day the 45 might get smoked for the following primary reasons...

  1. 25....servicing the addiction and habit
  2. 8.....mindless habitual repetition and boredom
  3. 4.....stress of thinking
  4. 3.....nervous tension
  5. 2.....pleasure
  6. 1.....settlement after a shock
  7. 1.....acute worry
  8. 1.....because the smoker did not get as much out of each cigarette as before
  9. 45....total smoked...

  But each instance will probably have been prompted by several different urges acting together.

  It changes every day and over the years, all the while the number needing to be smoked to service the addiction is steadily increasing...But, in the final analysis, it is the number of cigarettes smoked that day (not the tobacco) that counts.

  The first measure of a smoker is typically how many he or she smokes, eg: 'a two pack a day smoker' etc...The figure is tossed out as a casual classification, judgement, criticism etc, from which all and any kind of inference is then often drawn. But what does it actually mean?

  Well quite possibly, that that life in aggregate, if left unchecked, somehow manages to consume 45 cigarettes each day. It saves us from having to unravel psychological motivation, if we simply act as Alexander the Great did upon facing the challenge of the Gordian Knot. He cut it in half instead of undoing it. It will suffice to state that the smoker is prompted or even pressed into smoking 45 cigarettes per day, (45 cpd)

  Clearly if the smoker then decides to stop smoking, the life that wants him or her to puff away on 45 cigarettes each day is going to be disappointed and cravings will kick in. At first there will be this combined urge to smoke a full quota of 45 cigarettes. Over the next nine months the pressure will shrink down to 25% of what it was (assuming it takes a nine month period for any organic process to reduce by 75%).

  .... Continuing with the example of the 45 cigarettes per day smoker, here is a chart, calculated using a 75% reduction in pressure over each successive nine month period...

1 at start 45 cpd 315.0 cpweek
2 after nine months 11.25 cpd 78.75 cpweek
3 after one and a half years 2.81 cpd 19.69 cpweek
4 after two and a quarter years 0.70 cpd 04.92 cpweek
5 after three years 0.18 cpd 01.23 cpweek

  If this assumption is true, then in this case, the pressure to smoke after three years will be less than a quarter of a cigarette per day. Each day the smoker should still experience the urge to smoke. It would be minimal but would still cause cravings needing to be handled. It usually takes seven years after smoking that last cigarette, before this pressure to smoke gets sufficently attenuated to the point where it no longer causes any problems. If the calculation is repeated using a measurement of 'puffs per year' it becomes clearer to see why this might be the case.

  This calculation is clearly over simplified, and does not reflect the full story, since....

  1. The pressure to smoke might actually be greater than the number smoked, a kind of overpressure if you will. An extra percentage urging the smoker to smoke more than that day's quota.
  2. The pressure might diminish at either a faster or a slower rate.
  3. It does not take into account for how long the smoker has been smoking.
  4. There is no factor for genetic pre-disposition, or gender.
  5. There is no accounting for upbringing and early environmental conditions.
  6. The uses the smoker has for cigarettes...

  However, it is a place to start. Try to calculate your own numbers (if you need help, find a mathematician or contact the author). These numbers could be interpolated and formed into a daily chart, which would then serve to provide 'milestones of progress' along the way of getting rid of cigarettes.

Let it Pass.


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