As a Soldier, you are part of a team that is not just strong, but Army Strong. You have physical strength, mental strength and emotional strength. You are “strong enough to get yourself over” and “strong enough to get over yourself.” This strength can help you win the fight against the fiercest addiction you may ever face – tobacco addiction.

Tobacco addiction comes on gradually. You try a few cigarettes and think it isn’t too bad. You feel more alert, ready for anything. It is not that expensive either. Just a few bucks a day to feel good.

But soon, you smoke whenever you can, at whatever the cost; not just in money, but in time and in relationships. Now, you don’t want to feel good by smoking; you just want to avoid the bad feeling that comes when you don’t smoke. This is addiction, and it only takes about 100 cigarettes to go from “trying it out” to addiction.

You probably feel the addiction in the time it takes you to go outside for a smoke, or in your personal relationships, or in your wallet. What’s worse, you may feel it physically in your performance and readiness.

According to the surgeon general of the United States, smoking has negative effects on nearly every organ of the human body. Smoking is directly linked to the two leading causes of death: coronary heart disease and cancer. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.

The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes and about 13 times higher among women who smoke, compared with those who have never smoked.

In addition, recent onset smoking has been linked to a serious and sometimes fatal illness called acute eosinophilic pneumonia, which has occurred among young military members in Iraq.

Maybe smoking is something that should concern you. Tobacco use negatively affects your health. Why not fight tobacco addiction? For many Soldiers, fighting tobacco addiction is the hardest fight they will ever have.

Nov. 20 is the Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to go without smoking. If you can’t stop smoking for just one day, then you probably are addicted to tobacco. If that’s the case, let your healthcare provider know you need help to begin fighting the addiction.