Preventable. That word connotes a certain ominous tone. Include it with the words “Cigarette smoking is the most preventable cause of the death for smokers,” and the word “preventable” evokes hope.

Since 1964, when the Surgeon General mandated that all cigarette packs contain warning labels that “cigarettes maybe hazardous to your health,” more than 20 million smokers have died from cancer related illnesses. Annual deaths now amount to 443,000.

In my semi-annual plea to encourage you to quit smoking, consider these facts from

Women in the United States increasingly began smoking publicly in the 1920s when the cigarette was adopted by advertisers as a symbol of equality, rebellion and women’s independence. Currently, cigarette smoking kills an estimated 178,030 women in the United States annually (including my mother and aunt).

Women who smoke risk having a heart attack 19 years earlier than nonsmoking women.

Many diabetic smokers are unaware that sugar and cocoa are often added to cigarettes.

Of the thousands of chemical agents in tobacco smoke, more than 50 have been proven to cause cancer.

Within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, a person’s blood pressure returns to normal. Within one year, the chance of suffering a heart attack decreases by half.

Every cigarette smoked cuts at least five minutes off life on average.

Kentucky (31 percent of adults smoke) and Nevada (29 percent of adults smoke) are ranked first and second followed by Missouri at 27 percent, with an average of 9,700 deaths per year.

The FDA is bringing in artillery that is more graphic to warn smokers. By Oct. 22 of next year, all manufacturers will be required to show nine graphic grotesque images of what smoking does to one’s body. One graphic has a tracheotomy hole with smoke escaping.

They should also be made into huge banners and put throughout smoking areas in area casinos. Why should patrons and employees be subjected to second-hand smoke that has proven to be just as dangerous, just to appease smokers?

I don’t know how many times I found myself fleeing from cigarette dangling casino patrons or searching for an area devoid of smokers. It is time for legislators to publicly ban them everywhere and let smokers exercise their constitutional rights in their own homes – but not around children.

Preventable. A powerful word –  live it!

I give you President John Adams’ toast: Independence forever.