Holy Smokes!

Today we’re inaugurating an occasional showcasing, without commentary, of a randomly interesting and/or surprising new factoid, which must be shared. Here’s the first in the series.

A mind boggling calculation was gleaned from Graeme Blundell’s review (The Australian Aug 13-14) of an ABC TV series ‘Science of Drugs’. Cigarettes starred in the first episode, with alcohol.

Science historian Professor Robert N Proctor, author of Golden Holocaust (which ‘details the journey of tobacco from healing herb and cure all to deadly drug of abuse’):

“There are about seven trillion cigarettes smoked every year and that’s enough to make a continuous line of cigarettes from the Earth to the Sun and back, with enough left over for several round trips to Mars”


  1. Esteemed POH aka Kookie,
    I am able to verify the science, through my brief visit starting in early September, it seems that ALL of Europe enjoy an endless stream of cigarettes. Didn’t they get the memo?
    Appalled Anna!!

  2. I think you’re playing fast and loose with the numbers here. Lets say seven trillion cigarettes is correct and say for the average nail is ‘King Size’ @ 84mm.
    7,000,000,000,000 x 0.000084km = 588,000,000km
    Divided by 150,000,000km being the average distance to the Sun (the Earth orbit being an elipse) gives us 3.92 trips between the Earth and Sun.
    As for Mars. Theoretically, Mars and Earth are closest when the Mars is closest to the Sun, and the Earth lies at the furthest point from the Sun. Such periods are referred to as perihelion and aphelion respectively. The estimated distance would be 54.6 million kilometres, provided Earth and Mars are on the same radii from the Sun. Scientists say that this condition has never occurred in history and the closest distance ever recorded was in the year 2003 when Mars and the Earth were 56 million kilometres apart.
    Earth and Mars are furthest from each other when they lie on opposite sides, of the Sun i.e., the Sun is in between them. The distance would be as large as 401 million kilometres . Hence, the average distance between the two is about 225 million kilometres for a variation of up to 346.4 million kilometres.
    This may seem like trivia but if you’re planning a trip to Mars and calculating the number of cartons of Marlboro you’ll need for the trip, well…

    1. Thanks a lot Matt for such thoughtful and interesting input. So, with 588 million kms from the cigs, and using your average distances to both the Sun and Mars, we get one round trip to the former and almost two trips to the latter, for a total of 600m kms. Not that far from Proctor’s conclusion, with ‘several’ maybe an overstatement. I think his presentation was predicated on the thought that we would be very impressed already with a round trip to the Sun plus plenty of extras.

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