LOS ANGELES (Circa) -- Breathing in New York is the equivalent of smoking 2.3 cigarettes a day. That's according to Shit! I Smoke, an app that tells you how many cigarettes you're smoking based on the pollution in your city.
"It's in real time. Every hour, you get an update," said Marcelo Coelho, one of the app's co-founders.
He saw that air quality was getting very visibly worse.
Every hour, the app pulls data from the Air Quality Index and then uses a mathematical model that compares levels of PM2.5, a pollutant, to smoking and tobacco-related deaths. The app launched earlier this month and is available on Android and iOS. It was founded by friends Marcelo Coelho and Amaury Martiny in Paris.
"[My co-founder] Amaury—he lived in China—in Beijing—for a few years. He said that when he arrived, all the city had blue skies," Coelho said. "And for the time he was there, all the city development and everything, he saw that air quality was getting very visibly worse."
If you're in San Francisco, you're smoking around 3.7 cigarettes a day. Southern Mexico? 6.5. Closer to New Delhi, it's 14.1 cigarettes. In Los Angeles? We decided to ask people what they though the number was.
"I would say I'm probably smoking about 10 to 15 a day," said Seth Stepakoff, an L.A. resident who wanted to make it clear he doesn't actually smoke.
"Uh...100?" was Asha Pollard's guess.
It's not quite as high. On April 27, the day we checked, it was closer to 3.7 cigarettes. It's worth noting that the average for L.A. is about half a cigarette.
"I was expecting it to be higher," Stepakoff said. "I'm kind of happy about that, I guess," Stepakoff said laughing.
When I ask Pollard if she's ok smoking 3.7 cigarettes a day, she says no.
"I don't want to smoke any cigarettes a day."
The app doesn't stop air pollution, but it does help quantify it.
Originally published 5/3/18