What is Great American Smokeout?
The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November (November 21, 2019), challenging smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours. If you or a loved one smokes cigarettes, consider joining the movement, and take the first step toward quitting cigarettes forever!
History of Great American Smokeout
The inception of the Great American Smokeout stems from a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts. High school guidance councilor Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for one day and donate the money they would have spent on buying cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. A few years later in 1974, newspaper editor Lynn R. Smith led Minnesota’s first Don’t Smoke Day.
The two efforts caught on and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got 1 million people to quit smoking for the day. This marked the first official Smokeout before the American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977. As a result, there was a dramatic change in the public view of tobacco advertising and use. Many public establishments and work places are now smoke-free to protect non-smokers and support people trying to quit.
Every year the Great American Smokeout draws attention to preventing deaths and chronic illnesses caused by smoking. From the late 1980s to the 1990s, many state and local governments have raised taxes on cigarettes, limited promotions, discouraged teen cigarette use, and taken further action to counter smoking. States with strong tobacco control laws saw up to a 42% decrease of smoking in adults.
Though smoking rates have dropped, almost 38 million Americans still smoke tobacco, and about half of all smokers will encounter smoking related deaths. Each year, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from a smoking related illness, meaning smoking causes 1 out of 5 deaths in the US alone.