For more than half of the 20th century, smoking cigarettes was viewed as sexy and chic. Believe it or not, it was also seen as something healthy to do. From the 1930s through the 1950s, it was common to see magazine ads featuring doctors endorsing a particular brand of cigarette. One of these vintage ads even declared “More Doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” Unfortunately, smoking is not a thing of the past.
Even though there has been a widespread effort, since the late 1950, to inform people that smoking increases their risk for heart disease and other serious health problems, people still continue to smoke. Today, we will take an extreme approach to show you why smoking is hazardous to your health, in this episode of the Infographics Show, “What Would Happen If You Smoked 1,000 Cigarettes (At the Same Time).”
Smoking 1,000 cigarettes is the equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for 50 days. Even the world’s worst chain smokers might think twice about inhaling nearly two months of cigarette smoke at one sitting. If you dare to do this, you will face some dire effects:
1. Your body will become a toxic chemical dump.
According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco smoke contains “more than 7,000 chemicals.” Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic, including cadmium, beryllium, and arsenic. Tobacco produces its own special carcinogenic chemicals called tobacco-specific nitrosamines.
And then there is tar, the sticky residue left behind after the burning of tobacco. The National Cancer Institute notes that it “contains most of the cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke.” Tar can darken the lungs, which you can easily see in those “smoker’s lung” demonstrations all over the Internet. It can also damage cilia, the protective cleaning hairs of the trachea. This causes the lungs to become more susceptible to infection and cancer.
If you smoke 1,000 cigarettes, you will expose yourself to high, and in some cases fatal, levels of these toxic chemicals, which brings us to our next possible effect.
2. Nicotine will probably snuff out your existence.
Nicotine is a chemical found in the tobacco plant. It is highly addictive because it is responsible for the pleasurable effects of smoking that smokers want to experience again and again. It is also highly fatal if you overdose on it.
A nicotine overdose is one of the possible negative effects of smoking 1,000 cigarettes at the same time. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the “average smoker takes in 1-2 milligrams of nicotine per cigarette.” If you smoke 1,000 cigarettes at the same time, you will receive 1000 – 2000 mg of nicotine.
With that amount of nicotine in your bloodstream, you will probably experience various symptoms of nicotine poisoning, including vomiting, headache, and dizziness. You will also probably die if you don’t receive immediate medical attention. The CDC estimates that a “fatal human dose” of nicotine is about 50 to 60 mg.
3. If the nicotine doesn’t do you in, carbon monoxide poisoning will.
A dangerous component of cigarette smoke is carbon monoxide (or CO). It is an odorless, colorless gas that can take the place of oxygen in red blood cells. If the red blood cells carry more CO instead of oxygen throughout the body, oxygen deprivation occurs.
The statistics for the amount of carbon monoxide produced by one cigarette varies widely. In one study comparing cigarette smoke from “regular” and “light” cigarettes, researchers found that the “mean CO value achieved by the regular cigarette smokers was 27.85 ppm,” while the “mean value of the ‘light’ cigarette smokers was 29.63 ppm.” However, one health organization reports that “right after smoking one cigarette, a smoker may have a CO concentration as high as 50 ppm.” Even with the lowest CO concentration, you would still get a huge dose of CO if you smoked 1,000 cigarettes at the same time. Your CO concentration would be 27,850 ppm.
4. You can also look forward to formaldehyde poisoning.
Formaldehyde is another colorless gas that is found in cigarette smoke. It is used in manufacturing building materials and other products. A watered down version of formaldehyde called formalin is used as a preservative for medical and funeral purposes. Humans can tolerate exposure to small amounts of formaldehyde, but the CDC notes that “many subjects cannot tolerate prolonged exposures to 4 to 5 ppm.” Wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms of irritation are some of the minor symptoms of excessive formaldehyde exposure. Some studies suggest that exposure to high levels of formaldehyde can cause certain types of cancer.
There is even more bad news if you decide to smoke 1,000 cigarettes at the same time. One study indicates that the formaldehyde level in one puff of cigarette smoke ranges from 1.5 ppm – 19.5 ppm.
If we follow the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s estimate that a “typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette,” we can calculate that your formaldehyde exposure will be about 15 ppm – 195 ppm per cigarette. And if you are smoking 1,000 cigarettes simultaneously, the formaldehyde level rises to approximately 15,000 ppm – 195,000 ppm. This level of formaldehyde is well above the IMDH (or immediately dangerous to life and health) level of 20 ppm established by the CDC.
There is even more bad news if you decide to smoke 1,000 cigarettes at the same time. One study indicates that the formaldehyde level in one puff of cigarette smoke ranges from 1.5 ppm – 19.5 ppm. In a closed room with little or no ventilation, the amount of formaldehyde in the air would rise to unbearable levels. An average formaldehyde concentration of 19.5 ppm is very close to the IMDH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level of 20 ppm established by the CDC.
With this concentration of formaldehyde, you will probably have severe difficulty breathing and may become unconscious on your way to the hospital emergency room.
5. You could find new life even if you die.
Your body took a beating in this episode of The Infographics Show, and you will probably not survive. However, all is not lost. In death, you could continue to live on as a medical oddity that is probed and studied by researchers all over the world. You can join the likes of Ötzi the Iceman or even Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who now has images of parts of his brain preserved on an app. And this is all because you dared to smoke 1,000 cigarettes at the same time!
So, does this video make you want to never start smoking, or quit if you do? Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called What if u only drank soda and nothing else! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!
National Cancer Institute
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning