A World Hooked on Smoking
BILL was a kind man, an intelligent man, a strong man. He loved his family. At an early age, though, he began to smoke cigarettes. Later in life he hated the habit. Even as he puffed on a cigarette, he earnestly warned his sons against smoking, saying how stupid it was. There were times when he would crush a pack of cigarettes in his powerful hands and fling it across the room, vowing that he had smoked his last. Soon, though, he would be drawn back to smoking—first secretly, then openly.
Bill died of cancer 15 years ago, after months of dreadful pain. If he had not been a smoker, he would possibly be alive today. His wife would still have a husband; his sons would still have a father.
Bill’s death, tragic though it was for his family, is not unique. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco-related diseases kill about four million people each year, or one person every eight seconds. Tobacco use is the major preventable cause of disease worldwide. If present trends continue, in 20 years smoking will be the world’s number one cause of death and disability, killing more people than AIDS, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, motor vehicle accidents, suicide, and homicide combined.
Cigarettes kill. Yet those who smoke them are everywhere. Worldwide, at least 1.1 billion people are smokers, states WHO. That means roughly one third of the world’s adults.
Analysts estimate that while tobacco companies now pay hundreds of millions of dollars because of lawsuits brought against them, this amount is small compared with their multibillion-dollar profits. In the United States alone, an estimated 1.5 billion cigarettes roll off production lines in tobacco factories each day. Worldwide, tobacco companies and government monopolies sell over five trillion cigarettes every year!
Why do so many people persist in a habit that is deadly? If you are a smoker, how can you quit? These questions will be answered in the following articles.