No smoking matter 15 cigarettes in 75 minutes in a car could render you unconscious

It was announced earlier this month that drivers in England will be banned from smoking in their cars from October if they are carrying children as passengers.

Now, a group of physics students has estimated the consequences of smoking tobacco cigarettes in a car and how much opening a window would reduce the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

They calculated that you would need to smoke 15 cigarettes in 75 minutes in a closed car for the level of carbon monoxide to reach levels of 1000 parts per minute (ppm) – enough to make you fall unconscious.

They found that with a window open, it would still take around 2.5 hours to completely change the volume of air meaning that the carbon monoxide would not be completely removed, and may still be quite harmful as even lower levels of CO in the car can be damaging to your health.

They have published their findings in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The aim of the module is for the students to learn about peer review and scientific publishing.