A reader named Aras Gaure, who identifies himself as a trainee with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, writes to us:
At my workplace, smoking is prohibited –- as in a substantial number of other indoor workplaces. In order for me to have a smoke, I have to walk about 10 meters, get down 2 flights of stairs (a total of nineteen steps), and then walk 15 meters to the nearest terrace. In one workday, I have about 4-5 cigarettes, which means I cover a distance of about 200-250 meters and between 144 and 180 steps every day with regard to my smoking. Many people obviously smoke more and have to cover an even greater distance in order to have a cigarette. As a result of continuous bans on smoking around the world, people (who don’t quit) in many cases have to go through physical exertion numerous times a day to have a smoke. My question is whether or not this (in any sense or form) can be considered beneficial (especially for people who otherwise wouldn’t get this exercise)?
An interesting question but my sense is that the amount of exercise Aras describes — or even 5x that amount — is so minimal that it wouldn’t come close to offsetting the downsides of smoking. There are certain reported “health benefits of smoking,” including weight loss, but even for someone who likes finding counterintuitive trends, I have a hard time buying Aras’s wishful thinking. Am I wrong?