In 2016, 1 in 5 American adults are still addicted to smoking cigarettes. For over 40 years, the American Cancer Society has been working to reduce this number through its annual Great American Smokeout.
Excluding secondhand smoke, smoking is estimated to cause 32% of all cancer deaths in the US, including 83% of lung cancer deaths in men and 76% of lung cancer deaths in women.
Next Thursday, November 17 is this year’s Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to put the pack away and learn about how to effectively quit this addictive habit for good by providing tools, information, and support.
The event has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about smoking, leading to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives across the country. Many public places and workplaces are now smoke-free, protecting non-smokers and supporting smokers who want to quit.
Occurring every third Thursday of November, the idea for the event grew from a fundraiser in Randolph, Massachusetts in 1970. Participants were asked to give up cigarettes for a day, and donate the money that they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.
In 1974, the idea grew when a Newspaper Editor in Minnesota spearheaded the state’s first D-Day or Don’t Smoke day. The idea caught on and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for a day. The American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977.
Fortunately, the past few decades have seen great strides in changing attitudes about smoking, understanding nicotine addiction, and learning how to help people quit. Today, the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is celebrated with rallies, parades, stunts, quitting information, and even “cold turkey” menu items in schools, workplaces, Main streets, and legislative halls throughout the US.
Contact the American Cancer Society to get involved in your community’s Great American Smokeout or with any questions 24/7 at 1-800-227-2345.
Source: American Cancer Society