The state health department estimates tobacco kills about 6,000 Oklahomans each year. It is the leading cause of preventable death, taking more Oklahomans than alcohol, auto accidents, AIDS, suicides, murders and illegal drugs combined.

Oklahoma joins with other states and nations in celebration of World No Tobacco Day today. Global sponsor is the World Health Organization. The mission is to educate the public about the human and economic tolls of tobacco use and the public health benefits of prevention and cessation.

Activities are planned with a dinner in Norman tonight and a "tobacco pitch" from 7:30 to 9 a.m. outside the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, 4913 W. Reno. Oklahomans are invited to come by on their way to work or school and "pitch" their tobacco in honor of World No Tobacco Day 2006.

Oklahoma has a high percentage of smokers and those who do choose to smoke have a higher than usual consumption level. Public health advocates say 600,000 adult Oklahomans, about one in four, currently choose to use tobacco. Another 78,000 children use tobacco each day.

The health department estimates tobacco use costs Oklahomans more than $2 billion per year in medical expenses and lost productivity. That figures to an average of $600 per person.

Worldwide, the numbers are staggering. Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. It is currently responsible for the death of one in 10 adults worldwide (about 5 million deaths each year), according to the World Health Organization.

If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2020. Half the people who smoke today -- that is about 650 million people -- will eventually be killed by tobacco.

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