Pubdate: Tue, 16 Apr 2013
Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Copyright: 2013 The Commercial Appeal
Author: John H. Young
Page: 9A


I had the pleasure of reading the anti-marijuana letter "Pitfalls of 
marijuana." The writer's points are well-taken. Now I would like to 
offer some hard facts about the consequences of smoking just plain 
old tobacco. These facts deserve knowing since they represent 
enormous amounts of our health care dollars. In fact, these 
consequences account for the single largest outlay of money for 
health care. Most of this information is readily accessible from the 
highly respected CDC. Are you ready for the 800-pound gorilla in the room?

More than 45 million Americans smoke cigarettes. Smoking is the 
largest cause of preventable illness and death in the U.S. It is 
responsible for the great majority of the nation's lung cancers, not 
to mention being a very major cause of cancers of the mouth, larynx, 
pharynx, trachea, esophagus, stomach and urinary bladder. Smoking 
tobacco is also a very major factor in strokes and heart attacks and 
a whole host of other dreadful illnesses, such as emphysema, asthma 
(especially in children), erectile dysfunction, peripheral 
circulatory disease and low-birth weight and impaired babies.

Smoking tobacco kills an average of 1,200 people every day in the 
U.S. It kills more Americans than murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car 
crashes and alcohol combined. In addition, secondhand smoke kills 
another 3,000 Americans a year. There are plenty of other sad 
statistics I could relate, but it's all bad news and finally just 
gets saturating. Smoking has not one single redeeming feature.

My question is how many people does the letter writer know of, or has 
even heard of, who died from smoking marijuana, or who even became 
ill from smoking it?

John H. Young, M.D., Memphis
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