We can see that cities like Melbourne are pushing far the smoking bans

Often smoking is compared to car pollution, and is said to be insignificant
But, according to this experiment

A turbo diesel 2 litre engine was started and left idling for 30 minutes in the garage, with the doors closed, after which the doors were left open for four hours. The car was fuelled with low sulphur fuel.
Three filter cigarettes were then lit up sequentially, and left smouldering for a further 30 minutes. The nicotine and tar content of each cigarette was 1 mg and 11.2 mg, respectively.
A portable analyser took readings every two minutes during the experiments.
Combined particulate levels in the first hour after the engine had been started measured 88 ug/m3. Those recorded in the first hour after the cigarettes had been lit measured 830 ug/m3: 10 times greater.

The quality of comments on this article isn't satisfying, most of are personal opinions, with no added-value, like:

These findings have already been discredited...by common sense.

This blog or this study page 11 can confirm the importance of tobacco smoke as a local or global pollution source

However, when searching more, to know more their exact contribution in PM2.5 or PM1.0, I couldn't find better than a big 53% of PM1 where tobacco smoke is included:

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PM1.0 emission sources

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons composition source

Residential (from emissions inventory - fr)

Domestic use of paint (except 060107) 060104  
Paint application - Wood 060107  
Other applications of paint (non-industrial) 060109  
Application of glues and adhesives 060405  
Domestic solvent use (other than paint) 060408  
Domestic use of pharmaceuticals 060411  
Facilities Regrigeration and air conditioning, using halocarbons or SF6 060502  
Implementation of foam (except 060304) 060504  
Aerosol 060 506  
Other uses of HFC, N2O, NH3, PFC, SF6 060508  
Using Fireworks Fireworks 060601  
tobacco consumption 060602  
shoes use 060603  
military activities 080100     
Special equipment - Hobbies, gardening 0809xx   
Open fires 090702 green waste

Tertiary, commercial and institutional

Commercial and institutional 0201xx   
Repairvehicles  060,102  
Paint application - Wood 060107   
Dry Cleaning 060202   
Preparation of vehicles bodies 060409   
anesthesia 060501 
Facilities Regrigeration and air conditioning, using halocarbons or SF6 060502 060 503    
Implementation of foam (except 060304) 060504   
Fire extinguishers 060505   
Aerosol 060 506   
Electrical Equipment 060507  
Using Fireworks Fireworks 060601  
military activities 080100 

We can see that, many emissions more or less insignificant, form the 53% that is globally greater than road traffic.

I asked airparif (source of the charts) about the importance of tobacco smoke pollution source:
They gently replied me: (translated from French)

Particulate emissions in Ile-de-France for the year 2010 related to smoking are estimated at 110 tons. These particles emitted from cigarette smoke are considered to be PM2.5. For comparison, emissions from road traffic P2.5 for the same year is 3900 tonnes. Particulate emissions related to tobacco consumption therefore represent almost 3% of regional emissions of PM2.5 *, the average share may be higher locally.

*: the person forgot "from road traffic"

We have no specific document mentioning this figure.
You can quote as a personal communication Airparif.
The elements used to calculate come from two sources:
- Centre Interprofessionnel d’Etudes sur la Pollution Atmosphérique CITEPA - OMINEA : Organisation et Méthodes des Inventaires Nationaux des Emissions Atmosphériques en France 9ème édition, 2012 (p.883) http://www.citepa.org/
- Observatoire français des drogues et des toxicomanies OFDT - Séries statistiques annuelles - Vente de tabac et cigarettes evolution depuis 1990, 1990 à 2010, http://www.ofdt.fr/

links: tobacco sales - fr, emissions inventory - fr

3% of car exhaust, so it would represent more or less the same of Residential and Tertiary emissions of PM2.5 (fireworks, aerosols, paints, dry cleaners,...)

In a country like France, 35% of people smoke, and where we can roughly estimate they would smoke 10% of their car ride, then the contribution in traffic jams of tobacco in combustion could be 10 /3 (3 cigs were used) * .35 * .1 = 12% of cars exhausts.

Another way to see it, and this is probably more like that the 110 tons/year of tobacco smoke were calculated, is from tobacco sales - fr, 60 billions of cigarettes were bought in 2013, we could say 10 or a bit less in the area concerned (1/6th of total population), and 110e6/10e9 = 0.011 g, this concurs with blog:

barely the equivalent of one cigarette which has 12 mg on average

So how would you interpret these figures?
Are there enough information or not, since tobacco smoke contribution in PM1.0 and less isn't measured?
What could be the exact proportion of the contribution of tobacco smoke in the air of midly smoking city (30% of the population)?

  • 6
    I didn't completely follow, but couldn't "a cigarette emits more particulate matter than an idle engine" and "more particulates are emitted by road traffic than cigarettes" both be true?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 3:25
  • yes probably like "a firework emits more than a cigarette" and "more particulates are emitted by cigarettes than fireworks"
    – caub
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 11:59
  • 4
    Modern diesel engines in many places are required to have a diesel particulate filter. If the measurements are done at the exhaust pipe, it would make sense that the diesel engine emits less particulate matter--since it was all filtered out!
    – Flimzy
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 12:06
  • What measure will be used to quantify "as much": amount of stuff or the amount of harm caused by it?
    – matt_black
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 22:29


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