Smoker’s Math

While I’m on the subject. One of my co-workers is trying to quit smoking. She proudly reported that she’s down from a pack-a-day, to just five cigarettes. She seems to really want to stop and I hope she makes it. But the math kept nagging at me.

Let’s say she starts smoking when she gets up at 7:00 a.m and has her last one before retiring at, say, 11:00 p.m. So she consumes 20 smokes over a 16 hour day. On average, that works out to a cigarette every 48 minutes. And if it takes 5 minutes to smoke one, every 40 minutes she’s reaching for the Virginia Slims. That can’t be right, how would she ever get anything done? So I went back and asked.

“Well, I usually had about three cigarettes before I came to work. Maybe three or four during lunch. And the rest after work. Oh, and we usually take a couple of breaks during the day but only long enough to smoke one.” Okay, let’s re-run the numbers:

07:00 – 08:00 — 3
08:00 – 12:00 — 1
12:00 – 01:00 — 4
01:00 – 05:00 — 1
05:00 – 11:00 — 11

That only leaves 6 hours to smoke 11 cigarettes. One every half-hour until bedtime. My mom smoked two packs a day, every day. If she was awake, she had a Winston in her hand or in the nearby ash try. It was hard but satisfying work and she loved it.