The Great American Smoke Out 2008: Today Is Your Quit Day

David Kaufman, M.D. Health Pro
  • Thursday, November 20, is the Great American Smoke Out, which occurs the third Thursday every November (the week before Thanksgiving.)


    Join millions of people in the USA in quitting or dramatically reducing how much you smoke this Thursday.


    The idea for the Great American Smoke Out began in 1974, when a Minnesota newspaper editor named Lynn Smith sponsored Don't Smoke Day. Some believe it grew out of an event three years earlier, when a Massachusetts man, Arthur Mullaney, challenged people to give up cigarettes and donate the money they would have spent to a scholarship fund.


    In 1976, the California chapter of the American Cancer Society organized a "smokeout" aimed at getting 1 million people to quit for a day. The first nationwide Great American Smoke Out took place a year later, in 1977.

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    The Great American Smoke Out has played an important role in keeping the dangerous health effects of smoking in the spotlight. The percentage of adults who smoke has fallen in the last 40 years, from 41% to 21%. That means that the percentage of smokers is about half! But it also means that about 1 of every 5 adults is a smoker. Among teenagers, it's 1 out of 4. That means that almost all (about 95%) people who begin smoking as teenagers continue to smoke into adulthood.


    Many communities and institutions, like schools, universities, and hospitals, are distributing information on how to help quit and organizing rallies, parades, and informational displays. Many are trying to help people find the support that can be crucial in a successful quitting effort. Many towns, counties and states offer resources like Quit Lines, phone lines people can call to get information and support to help quit. Non-profit groups like the Foundation for a Smokefree America can help you organize events in your community.


    If you are a smoker, planning ahead can help make quitting easier. Choosing a quit plan beforehand can make it easier to stick with your decision to quit. The American Cancer Society has helpful tips on how to plan your Quit Day.


    If you are not a smoker, but care about smoker: provide support. Support-especially from friends or loved ones-is a crucial element is quitting and staying quit. Encouragement and moral support are key.


    45.8 millions Americans smoke. That's more than the population of California! On November 20, 2008, let's see if we can lower that!


Published On: November 19, 2008