The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records



Ocean rowing vs. smoking - cost statistics

August 18 2004

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This past winter, ExplorersWeb ran the "Killer Mountains" series. They became some of our most popular articles. The series investigated the summit/fatalities statistics of the 14, 8000ers and - more important - how dangerous are the mountains after all? Turned out, that the average summit/fatality rate of the eightthousanders is around 10%. Less even for non summiteers.

On the Oceans, a debate is now raging regarding the rescue costs of ocean rowers. Some wonder why adventurer's want to die, and why the rest should pay for it.

"Scrambling a Nimrod and a helicopter might well cost a notional £120,000 (USD 220,000)" wrote one of the crew members of Pink Lady, the rowing team recently rescued on the North Atlantic when hurricane Alex split their boat in two.

Image of two ladies happy with their different life styles: Ocean rowing Maud Fontenoy and unknown cigar smoker, compiled by ExplorersWeb.
 "One newspaper ran as panel listing other things that could have been bought with the £120,000 it supposedly costs to launch a Nimrod. It included heart and lung operations of the type normally relied upon in later life by those who have abused their bodies with cigarettes and alcohol...

I think it is worth pointing out that all of the crew of Pink Lady is reasonably fit, and not one of them smokes, or drinks to excess (well, sometimes, maybe) and so is unlikely to call upon the state to spend money on providing new hearts or lungs," continued the crew member, A Times reporter.

So, we took another look at the statistics.


Each year, 440,000 people die of diseases causes by smoking or another form of tobacco use, that’s about 20% of all deaths in the United States.

Results show that during 1995-1999, smoking caused approximately $157 billion in annual health-related economic losses. The economic costs of smoking totaled $3,391 per smoker per year.

So, let's do a quick calculation here: Pink Lady's crew were three people [ they were four - editor]. They had a choice of smoking or rowing. If they chose smoking, they would cost the tax payers $135,640 each (if they started smoking at 20 and died at sixty). Times three - that's $410,000.

Our gain on the crew vs. smokers: USD 190 000.

But wait, there's more:

Junk food & doing nothing:

Each year, 300,000 people die of poor diet and physical inactivity, that's about 14% of all deaths in the United States, second only to tobacco use. Nearly 59 million adults are obese in US, and the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Fifteen percent of Americans aged 6–19 years are overweight.

The health care costs associated with obesity now rival those attributable to smoking, according to a new study of 2003.

So, that's another 400 thousand saved. In fact, the ocean rowing guys have saved the UK tax payers somewhere around 600 000 USD, rescue included.

There is a bonus, too:

"Two of the guys on the boat have fought, and risked their lives, for their country; one has seen his son go off to fight in Iraq; one is a fulltime fireman and we all know what great work they do for very little money."

And then there's a final:

"Those who criticize adventurers such as ocean rowers (or climbers, or sailors or anyone else who dares to put themselves out on the edge) forget that it is such people who have, over the centuries, pushed back the frontiers of human knowledge and inspired others to turn their dreams into reality. The responses on our message board, from all over the world, were overwhelming in that respect," finished the Times journalist.

Ocean rowing keeps you slender and smoke-free, and makes you a financial contributor to those who choose a less healthy life style. The rowers are not complaining. And so shouldn't any one else.

And don't even make us go to the stats of drunk drivers and truck drivers..;).

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