(Almost) As Bad As Smoking

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Smoking is often seen as being (the most) unhealthy (thing you can do.)

However it often isn't as the following show.

Living in a City (air, again) 2019

THE air pollution that city dwellers are exposed to is as bad for the health as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day, a shock report warns.

Breathing in fumes from traffic, planes, power plants and industry on a long-term, regular basis is causing growing numbers of urban non-smokers to develop chronic lung disease, experts say.

Just a decade of city living was found to do the same damage as 29 years of puffing on 20 cigarettes daily.[1]

10 years of smoking == 30 years of 20-a-day - that's more like 60-a-day, not 20...

Porn - October 2018

Pornography causes so much harm it should be treated like cigarettes and reckless driving, MPs demanded last night.

Members of the Commons women and equalities committee said porn should receive as much public funding as other major health issues.[2]

The report recommended the Government should “take an evidence based approach to addressing the harms of pornography, similar to the huge investment there has been over many years in tackling road safety, or preventing public health problems caused by lawful behaviour such as smoking”.[3]

Air - October 2018

“The world has turned the corner on tobacco. Now it must do the same for the ‘new tobacco’ – the toxic air that billions breathe every day,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general. “No one, rich or poor, can escape air pollution. It is a silent public health emergency.”


Globally, with smoking on the decline, air pollution now causes more deaths annually than tobacco. However, researchers think the harm known to be caused by air pollution, such as heart attacks and lung disease, is only “the tip of the iceberg”.[4]

Plastic bottles - May 2018

Wayward pupils sneaking a cigarette behind the bike shed could soon be joined by another group of reprobates at a leading private school.

Brighton College has banned disposable plastic bottles and said that it would punish those caught using them in the same way as it dealt with smokers.

The ban extends to plastic straws and non-biodegradable cups and will apply to staff as well.[5]

Plus-size Models - August 2017

Health officials in Australia have expressed concerned over "drastically overweight" models being "glorified" on the runway.

The Australian Medical Association NSW President, Brad Frankham, told the Daily Telegraph he believes it sends a dangerous message that's as damaging as promoting models who are severely underweight.

Dr Frankhum also stated that he believes there is a "fine line" between being "confident" and promoting something he considers unhealthy.[6]

Eggs (again) - April 2017

An organisation that claims to be on the "frontlines fighting to protect farmed animals" highlights, and possibly deliberately misinterprets, some dodgy research that melds quite closely to their stated ideals:

Because egg yolks are loaded with cholesterol, a known risk factor for coronary artery disease and heart attacks, they are as dangerous as cigarettes according to scientists.[7]

Lonliness/No Friends - August 2016

Having no friends could be as deadly as smoking, researchers at Harvard University have suggested,[8]

Harvard researchers have discovered a new link between loneliness and poor health.

They found that people with fewer social connections had higher levels of fibrinogen — a protein that helps blood clots to form. Larger amounts raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes.


They also suggested that having 12 fewer friends had the same effect on fibrinogen levels as taking up smoking.[9]

Sitting down (again) - 27 July 2016

The Lancet put out a meta-analysis about sedentary lifestyles[10], and the following ensued:

Steven Ward, executive editor of UK Active, urged employers to do more to encourage workers to be more active during the working day.

He also urged workers to do all they could to find time to get moving.

“This report is showing that inactivity kills,” he said. “When we realised this about smoking we tackled it – we need to do the same about our office culture.”[11]

Incense - 26 August 2015

In the future, incense might need to carry a health warning, just like tobacco. That’s the conclusion of researchers who for the first time have compared the effects of burning incense indoors to inhaling tobacco smoke.[12]

Sugar - 2014

'Sugar is the new tobacco': Cuts to amounts hidden in food could halt obesity epidemic, claim doctors[13]

Maybe, but difficult to blame it since sugar consumption has declined since 1980[14]...

Sitting down - 17 Jun 2014

As several recent studies have discovered, sitting for too long can be as dangerous to health as smoking. It more than doubles your risk of diabetes and is linked with an increase in heart disease. In fact, inactivity is the fourth biggest killer of adults, according to the World Health Organisation. [15]

Such a shame about all those people in wheelchairs who are going to die of lung cancer then...

Indoor Suntanning - April 2014

...we show that the number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking in the same regions..[16]

Taking your kids to McDonalds - Chris Brewis; Independant member of Lincolnshire county council - 25 Sep 2012

Fresh calls have been made to reintroduce compulsory cookery lessons into schools in Lincolnshire.


Following a presentation to Lincolnshire county councillors on the issue, Independent member Chris Brewis said: "I think incidents of parents taking their children into fast food outlets should be treated as a form of child abuse.

"We, as a council, need to tell these parents they are killing their children.[17]

Being an omnivore - Guardian Editorial - 27 Aug 2012

Being a vegetarian can carry with it an oppressive aura of smugness, as each day being a carnivore gets a bit more like smoking – an act that is not only self-destructive but damaging the rest of the world too.[18]

Gay Marriage - 5 Sep 2012

The head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) Jim Wallace says smoking is healthier than the lifestyle that would be promoted by same-sex marriage.


"I think we're going to owe smokers a big apology when the homosexual community's own statistics for its health - which it presents when it wants more money for health - are that is has higher rates of drug-taking, of suicide, it has the life of a male reduced by up to 20 years," he told the audience. Advertisement

"The life of smokers is reduced by something like seven to 10 years and yet we tell all our kids at school they shouldn't smoke." [19]

Naturally, Mr Wallace hasn't provided his sources for these amazing figures.

E-cigs - 3 Sep 2012

Bit of a cheat this one, since it's not directly comparing e-cigs to smoking (or anything else for that matter) - just merely scaremongering

They are touted as a safe alternative to smoking, but electronic cigarettes could damage the lungs, latest research has found.

The devices were found to cause an immediate rise in airway resistance in the lungs - meaning less oxygen is absorbed by the blood.

On average the effect lasted for ten minutes, a report presented at the European Respiratory Society's Annual Congress in Vienna found.[20]

This seems to be predicated on the fact that some smokers use their lungs to draw on the e-cigs (as opposed to those who close the back of their throat and produce a partial vacuum by their mouth alone.) Something that the same people smoking cigarettes would never do with real cigarettes...

Electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine through a vapour rather than smoke and there has been much debate over their safety.

No. There's been a lot of opinion spouted over their safety with no research to back up the scaremongering. Nicotine is the only active ingredient in e-cigs - a chemical that is 'safely' used in things that the pharmacological industry produce such as gum and patches. The only other constituants are water and (propylene) glycol who's safety is not in doubt[21]

To investigate, researchers from the University of Athens examined the effects on eight people who had never smoked [...]

Words fail.

Email - 3 Sep 2012

Scientists who attached heart rate monitors to office workers found they remained in a state of 'high alert' throughout the day if they had constant access to email.

Now University of California informatics professor Gloria Mark has given her verdict on email after running an experiment in which 13 volunteers ignored their 'you've got mail' chimes for five days.

Always connected: Scientists who attached heart rate monitors to office workers found they remained in a state of 'high alert'

Speaking to The Times about her experiment, she said: 'I had this crazy idea that people were addicted to email.

'So I started thinking, the way you can test that is if you take people away from email cold turkey. You should see symptoms of withdrawal, the same way people are addicted to alcohol or drugs.'[22]

Egg Yolks - 13 Aug 2012

LONDON, Ont. – Yolk or smoke — the first is almost as bad for you as the second, London researchers have found. But the egg lobby very much disagrees.

When it comes to raising your risk of heart attacks and strokes, eating egg yolks is nearly as bad as smoking, the Western University researchers found.

"If you are at risk of heart attack and stroke, you shouldn't eat egg yolks," said Dr. David Spence, a Robarts Research Institute scientist.[23]

Lack of exercise - 18 Jul 2012

A lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking across the world, a study suggests.

The report, published in the Lancet to coincide with the build-up to the Olympics, estimates that about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3m deaths a year.[24]

If you thought kicking the cigarette habit was enough to keep you healthy, you may want to go and find your trainers.

Because failing to take enough exercise is as deadly as smoking, researchers say.

More than 90,000 lives in Britain each year from illnesses including heart disease, breast and bowel cancer and diabetes.


Researchers at Harvard estimated the number of lives lost each year because of a lack of exercise.

The study, published in The Lancet, found that worldwide it leads to one in ten deaths, or 5.3million of the 57million deaths globally.[25]

Fast Food, Aseem Malhotra - 14 Apr 2012

A consultant psychiatrist friend, on his recent appointment to a new job, was so disgusted by the detrimental effect of the unchecked consumption of junk food on his patients' health that he successfully banned vending machines selling chocolates, fizzy drinks and crisps from the hospital grounds.

He wondered whether I – as a clinician – believed the consequences of eating junk food were as bad for our health as smoking cigarettes. "No, not as bad," I replied, "in many ways it's far worse!"[26]


  1. City living bad as 20 fags a day: Scale of damage caused by air pollution exposed in shock report - The Metro
  2. Porn is as 'harmful as cigarettes' and must be treated as a major health crisis with new restrictions on social media, MPS warn - Daily Mail
  3. Porn is ‘as harmful as smoking’ and must be treated as major public health issue, MPs warn - The Sun
  4. Air pollution is the ‘new tobacco’, warns WHO head - The Guardian
  5. Pupils using plastic straws and bottles will be punished like smokers at Brighton College - The Times
  6. Health officials: Plus size models as bad as promoting smoking - nzherald.co.nz
  7. Here’s Why Eating 1 Egg per Day Is Just as Bad as Smoking 5 Cigarettes - Mercy for Animals
  8. Having no friends could be as deadly as smoking, Harvard University finds - The Telegraph
  9. Loneliness is bad for your health. Now we are closer to knowing why - Spectator
  10. - Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women - The Lancet
  11. - Office workers must exercise for an hour a day to counter death risk - The Telegraph
  12. Incense could be more harmful than cigarette smoke, researchers find - Science Alert
  13. 'Sugar is the new tobacco': Cuts to amounts hidden in food could halt obesity epidemic, claim doctors - The Independant
  14. Calorie consumption revisited (no. 3): Sugar - Velvet Glove, Iron Fist
  15. Work at a desk? Then experts have worrying news... Why sitting down can be as bad for you as smoking - Mail Online
  16. International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning - JAMA Network
  17. Taking children to fast food outlets is form of child abuse, says Lincolnshire councillor - This is Lincolnshire
  18. In praise of … going veggie - The Guardian
  19. 'Smoking healthier than gay marriage' - The Age
  20. Electronic cigarettes 'could damage your lungs' as they cause less oxygen to be absorbed by the blood - Daily Mail
  21. Propylene glycol - Wikipedia
  22. Quitting email is good for your heart and makes you more productive, say researchers (but it's as difficult as giving up drugs) - Daily Mail
  23. Egg Yolks Amost as Unhealthy as Cigarettes - Toronto Sun
  24. Inactivity 'killing as many as smoking' - BBC
  25. Why being a couch potato is as bad for you as smoking - Daily Mail
  26. We must demonise junk food for the sake of our children - CiF, The Guardian