"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were a little over 300,000 deaths related to AIDS in 1997. That's like taking half the people in Baltimore county and making them disappear. Another 75,000 died from alcohol. In addition to that, 20,000 died from illegal drug use, and 25,000 died from motor vehicle crashes. But if you were to add those numbers up, they still wouldn't equal the amount of deaths that were related to tobacco. In fact, each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides and fires combined." Tobacco is a concern not only for the person that is smoking, but it also effects the population that is not a tobacco user by increasing medical costs and taxes, and increases the mortality rate with second hand smoke. According to the United States Public Health Service, there are approximently 54 million Americans that smoke each year. The use of tobacco has easily become number one cause of death and concern in the United States.Smoking is direcly linked to bronchitis ;emphysema ;coronary heart disease ;cirrhoses of the liver ;peripheral vascular disease ;bladder cancer ;peptic ulcers ;lung cancer ;larynx cancer ;lip, tongue, and gum cancers ;tobacco amblyopia ;adverse drug reactions tachycardia, increased blood pressure, decreased exercise tolerance, coronary vasoconstriction, elevated blood carboxyhemoglobin concentration, and increased tendency to thrombosis. In addition, 14 percent of all premature deliveries may be due to maternal smoking and 87 percent of all lung cancer cases are due to tobacco. Also, The CDC says people who smoke increase their risk of death from bronchitis and emphysema by nearly 10 times. The CDC calls it the number one preventable cause of pre mature death in the US. And the Surgeon General has called it 'the most important of the known modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease in the United States. What makes it so hard to quit?? Well, many researchers consider nicotine to be the most physically addictive of all the psychoactive drugs including crack cocaine and heroin. Three out of four smokers want to quit but they cannot and 75% of smokers say they wish they never started. Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide, the deadly gas found automobile exhaust, in concentrations 400 times greater than is considered safe in industrial workplaces. Carbon monoxide is the deadly gas that you always hear of people dying from in houses. What it does is bind to the hemoglobin in your blood at a rate10 times faster and easier than oxygen does, making it imposible for your blood to transport oxygen to your organs and tissues. Also substances in tobacco damage the lining of the respiratory tract and decrease the lungs' ability to fight off infection. According to the CDC, smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among middle-aged men and women. The American Cancer Society's findings indicate that by the age of eighty five, only 5 percent of lifetime smokers are still alive, as compared with 37 percent of those who never smoked. In addition, smokers at age thirty can expect to live an average age of 64.8 years if they continue to smoke, while nonsmoking 30 year olds can expect to reach the age of 82.7. That's an additional 20 years of life with your husband, wife, grandchildren and loved ones. Not only is tobacco a concern for the user, but it also has an effect on taxpayers and insurance policy holders. Domestic cigarette sales exceed $45 billion per year. And exports of cigarettes is an additional $7 billion. While consumers spent almost 55 billion dollars on cigarettes last year, smoking costs Americans and insurance companies $97.2 billion each year in health care and lost productivity. For every pack of cigarettes sold, the government collects 99 cents on it . Of that, only 33 cents goes towards health care. With the cost of medical care due to tobacco, they would need to increase the 33 cents to 4 dollars per pack to keep up with it. And the tobacco companies need to gain 5000 new smokers each day just to keep up with the ones they loose from death and quitting. But this problem isn't just isolated to the smokers and the taxpayers, this habit also effects the health of non smokers as well. The American Heart Association last fall released a seven-year study showing that never-smoking spouses of smokers have more than a 20 percent greater chance of death from coronary heart disease than those who have never smoked who live with non-smokers. There are an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 cases every year of infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia in infants and children under 18 months of age who breathe secondhand smoke. It's also estimated that from 37,000 to 40,000 people die from heart and blood vessel disease caused by other people's smoke each year. Next time you decide to pick up tobacco, ask yourself if the two minutes of pleasure is worth the damage that is being done to yourself, the damage that you will encounter down the road, the damage to your loved ones and the damage to the rest of the population!!!