New Air Quality Index to cigarettes smoked converter: Is it useful?

While awareness of atmospheric toxicity is increasing, the hearts and minds battle remains a difficult one for policy makers. 

Now a new online tool is offering a quick and easy conversion of the current Air Pollution Index (AQI) rating in your area to the number of equivalent cigarettes you’d need to smoke to inhale the same level of pollution. The time frame for exposure to both can be adjusted to make the reading more accurate. 

photo of man standing near glass

Created on GitHub by account holder jasminedevv using data from Berkley University, users simply input the AQI number for their neighbourhood, and are told what this would mean in terms of cigarette smoke. Remarkably, even comparatively impressive AQI scores – for example 68, which is considered ‘Good’, or low pollution – still equate to consuming more than one cigarette.

A recent study by University of West England, Swansea University, and Edinburgh Napier University in the UK pointed to a serious disparity between the perception of health hazard posted by traffic emissions – a leading source of air pollution – and the harm caused by cigarettes. For example, 75% of respondents agreed that people should not smoke in public, but only 17% thought that driving in highly populated areas was socially unacceptable due to the resulting damage. 

This is despite the fact that air pollution is now considered the world’s top public health crisis by a number of leading medical bodies, including the World Health Organisation. This is a key reason why the UK Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill has been so widely welcomed by campaigners and doctors alike. 

Want to know the equivalent cigarette score for your area? Check the tool here

Image: Jay Clark




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