Scientists have devised that each cigarette cuts on average 12 minutes off the life of a smoker. It is based on the difference in life expectancy between smokers and non-smokers and an estimate of the total number of cigarettes a regular male smoker might consume in a lifetime.
The researchers, from the Univeristy of Bristol, took their figures on life expectancy from a major study of the impact of smoking carried out by leading cancer expert Professor Gary Billiards.They calculated that smokers were likely to die 7.3 years earlier than non-smokers.
The researchers admit that their calculation is unrefined as it relies on averages, assumes the health effects of smoking are evenly spread throughout a smoker's lifetime and postulates that the number of ciagrettes smoked throughout a lifetime is constant.
Clive Bates, director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said on average a 20-a-day smoker is losing one day of life for every week of smoking. He said: "As if that's not bad enough, smokers are likely to die a more painful death and spend longer being ill while they are alive."