Scientific researchers got massive attention for a quick comparison they made: comparing air pollution on a bad day in Beijing to smoking a cigarette and a half, every hour. There’s more to this story, but one thing is true, the comparison was effective in getting people talking more about the No. 1 public health issue in the world: the effect of air quality on health.
The conclusion, “Air Pollution kills more people worldwide each year than does AIDS, malaria, diabetes or tuberculosis. For the United States and Europe, air pollution is equivalent in detrimental health effects to smoking 0.4 to 1.6 cigarettes per day. In China the numbers are far worse; on bad days the health effects of air pollution are comparable to the harm done smoking three packs per day (60 cigarettes) by every man, woman, and child. Air pollution is arguably the greatest environmental catastrophe in the world today.”
Source: Richard A. Muller, Elizabeth A. Muller. Berkeley Earth. Air Pollution and Cigarette Equivalence. Accessed 4 April 2017