Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable morbidity and premature mortality worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 440, 000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly, such as babies born prematurely due to prenatal maternal smoking and victims of 'secondhand' exposure to tobacco's carcinogens. Smoking costs the United States over $150 billion each year in health-care costs including $81. 9 billion in mortality-related productivity loses and $75. 5 billion in excess medical expenditures. In the United States, an estimated 25.

6 million men and 22. 6 million women are smokers. These people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke. The latest estimates for persons age 18 and older show: Among whites, 25. 1 percent of men and 21.

7 percent of women smoke. Among black or African Americans, 27. 6 percent of men and 18. 0 percent of women smoke. Among Hispanics/Latinos, 23. 2 percent of men and 12.

5 percent of women smoke. Among Asians, 21. 3 percent of men and 6. 9 percent of women smoke.

Studies show that smoking prevalence is higher among those with 9-11 years of education (35. 4 percent) compared with those with more than 16 years of education (11. 6 percent). It's highest among persons living below the poverty level (33. 3 percent). Tobacco started growing in the Americas in 6000 BC.

100 BC, people started using tobacco leaves for smoking and chewing. Now it has grown in a nasty, hard to break habit. The first paper rolled cigarette was made in 1832. It is widely believed that Egyptians soldiers were the first to make this, now famous past-time. Other historians suggest that Russians and Turks learned about cigarettes from the French, who in turn may have learned about smoking from the Spanish.

It is thought that paupers in Seville were making a form of cigarette, known as 'papelette', from the butts of discarded cigars and papers as early as the 17 th century. In 1856, the first cigarette factory opened. It was in Walworth, England, and owned by Robert Go lag, a veteran of the Crimean War. Four decades later, fears about the effects of cigarette smoking aroused in The Lancet.

During World War I, smoking became hugely popular with soldiers in battlefields of northern Europe and cigarettes became known as 'soldier's smoke'. In 1964, the United States Surgeon General Luther Terry announced that smoking caused lung cancer. Shortly after, in 1965, the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act required US Surgeon General's warning's on cigarette packs. 1970 brought the ban on broadcast ads for cigarettes in the US. 1971 radio advertisements were also forbidden. The first US federal restriction on smoking came along in 1973.

Officials ruled that all airlines must create non-smoking sections. Later, smoking was banned from flights of less than two hours. Rose Cipollone, a smoker dying from lung cancer, filed a landmark lawsuit in 1983. This case went on for nine years, and she was finally awarded $400, 000, but the decision was overturned. In 1988 the United States Surgeon General concluded that nicotine was an addictive drug in his 20 th report. This opened the eyes of millions.

Laws were strictly enforced all over the country. 1990: Smoking is banned on US interstate buses and all domestic airline flights of six hours or less. 1992: Nicotine patches introduced. US Supreme Court rules that warning labels in packs of cigarettes do not protect tobacco companies from lawsuits. 1993: Vermont bans smoking in indoor public places, making it the first US state to do so. In 1994, Executives of seven of the largest US tobacco companies swear in Congressional testimony that nicotine isn't addictive and deny manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes.

The state of Mississippi filed first of 24 state lawsuits, in the same year, seeking to receive millions of dollars from tobacco companies for smokers' Medicaid bills. In 1998, forty-six states in the US receive a 206 billion dollar settlement with cigarette makers over health costs for treating sick smokers, and tobacco executives testified before Congress that nicotine is addictive but under current definitions of the word, and that smoking may cause cancer. A jury in Portland, Oregon, awarded the family of Jesse Williams, 81 million dollars against Philip Morris in punitive damages plus 821, 485 dollars in compensatory damages in 1999. The judge later reduced the punitive damages to 32 million and was then reinstated in 2002. Also in 1999, two tobacco companies were cleared by a Louisiana jury, on the count of wrongdoing in the death of a smoker from lung cancer. In 2000, a jury awarded punitive damages of nearly 145 billion dollars against five US tobacco companies after a class action in the state of Florida.

On March 31, 2003, NYC banned smoking in all public places.