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Great American Smokeout!

Mark the day by helping someone you love find the resources to help them quit

Thursday, November 21, marks the American Cancer Society’s 44th annual Great American Smokeout®.

It’s never too late for someone to quit smoking. If someone you know smokes cigarettes or uses other tobacco products, encourage them to make a plan to quit and seek help. Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. 

Stopping smoking is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples people's chances of quitting successfully. People who smoke are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods, such as prescription medications and counseling, to quit smoking. It’s a good idea to talk to their doctor or pharmacist to get their advice. Research shows that people who smoke are most successful in their efforts to stop smoking when they have support, such as:

  • Telephone quitlines
  • American Cancer Society Freshstart Program
  • Nicotine Anonymous meetings
  • Self-help books and materials
  • Smoking counselors or coaches
  • Encouragement and support from friends and family members

Using two or more of these measures to quit smoking works better than using any one of them alone. For example, some people use a prescription medicine along with nicotine replacement. Other people may use as many as three or four of the methods listed above. Professional guidance can help you choose the best approach.

The American Cancer Society can help

ACS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support, answer questions about quitting smoking, and find national or local resources to help people quit. The public can visit or call 1-800-227-2345. 

Tools and resources for the Smokeout can be found on, as well.

History of our Great American Smokeout

New volunteers might be interested to know how our Smokeout began. The idea grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, MA, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. Then in 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times 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 the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first official Smokeout, and the American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977. 

Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports people who smoke who want to quit. 

Although adult smoking rates dropped from 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2017, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. Smoking also causes cancers of the larynx (voice box), mouth, sinuses, pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), and bladder. It also has been linked to the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, ovary (mucinous), colon/rectum, kidney, stomach, and some types of leukemia. Cigars and pipes cause cancers, too.

And, of course, as we all know, people who never smoked can get lung cancer, too.

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