The question here: Does smoking a single cigarette measurably harm your body?, was closed as a duplicate of the question here: Does smoking cigarettes cause lung cancer?.

One question is about harm to the body, which can include any foreseeable harm that can be produced due to cigarette smoking. E.g. inflamed throat, damaged teeth. The other question is about whether or not smoking causes lung cancer. Should this question be re-opened?


Hard to say, it looks like that might be an edge case depending upon how the question is phrased. Personally I don't think that it is an exact duplicate as the other question is limited to lung cancer and this is a broader question. Also, given the time frames involved (i.e. short term effects versus long term effects) I personally would say that it should be reopened.


The question, as it stands, has a number of separate problems.

  • There is no notability. No-one is quoted as saying one cigarette causes harm. No-one is quoted as saying one cigarette doesn't cause harm.

  • It is biased by being unfalsifiable. Someone wishing to argue that one cigarette doesn't cause harm would need to go through every possible ailment there is, and show there is no evidence that a single cigarette would cause it. Questions that ask about a particular harm are more reasonable.

  • It is biased by being vague. Someone wishing to argue one cigarette causes harm only need point out that a single cigarette will make you stink of tobacco, which could be called a harm. Again, questions that identify a particular harm are more reasonable.

  • It imposes an unnecessary black-and-white thinking about dosages - that there will be some point at which cigarettes are dangerous. Some drugs (e.g. alcohol) are dangerous only in higher dosages because the body can't process them fast enough. Other drugs (e.g. the carcinogens in cigarettes) cause random damage in proportion to their dosage. [I didn't provide references here, so you have no reason to trust this, but I am making a general point.] The probability of harm caused by a single cigarette is likely to be non-zero AND neglible enough to ignore when evaluating risks. This makes the question rather meaningless. Both Yes and No are wrong. While this may not be a reason to close it, it is a reason not to vote it up.

  • 1
    I'd argue the first point as "One cigarette isn't going to hurt you" is commonly used in peer groups when apply peer pressure. Plus there is a standing belife that "a cigarette one in a blue moon" isn't going to cause harm.
    – rjzii
    Jan 11 '13 at 21:17

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