The Great American


Every year, smokers across the nation participate in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout® by smoking less or quitting for the day on the third Thursday of November. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco and raises awareness of the many effective ways to quit for good.

In many communities, local volunteers support quitters, publicize the event, and press for laws that control tobacco use and discourage teenagers from starting.

Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have some means of support, such as nicotine replacement products, counseling, prescription medicine to lessen cravings, guide books, and the encouragement of friends and family members.

Despite that, only about one in seven current smokers reports having tried any of the recommended therapies during their last quit attempt. Telephone quitlines are a convenient new resource, available for free in many states.

Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to find a quitline or other science-based support in your area.

How the Great American Smokeout Began

The Smokeout has helped bring about dramatic changes in Americans' attitudes about smoking, which have led to community programs and smoke-free ordinances that are now saving lives in many states. The event began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were commonplace.

The idea for the Great American Smokeout came from Arthur P. Mullaney, a Massachusetts resident who asked people to give up smoking for a day in 1971 and donate the money they would have spent on tobacco to a local high school. 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 successfully prompted nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Smokeout, and the Society took it nationwide in 1977.

Smokeout Fueled New Laws, Now Paying Off in Lives Saved

Each year, the Great American Smokeout also draws attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking. And throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, many state governments responded by banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, raising taxes on cigarettes, limiting advertising, discouraging teen cigarette use, and taking further actions to counter smoking.

Those states with strong tobacco control laws are now reaping the fruits of their labor in markedly lower smoking rates and fewer people dying of lung cancer, according to a 2003 report in Cancer Causes and Control.

The study found lung cancer death rates among adults age 30-39 were lower and falling in most states that had a strong anti-tobacco program. In states with weak tobacco control, lung cancer rates were higher and climbing.

Today, an estimated 46 million US adults smoke. Tobacco use can cause lung cancer, as well as other cancers, heart disease, and respiratory disease. Smoking is responsible for one in three cancer deaths, and one in five deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people are living with serious illnesses caused by smoking.

Fortunately, the past 25 years have seen tremendous strides in changing attitudes about smoking, in understanding the addiction, and in learning how to help people quit.

For more information visit our web pages about quitting smoking, improving your health or getting involved in the Great American Smokeout. Or just call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345.

The Gay American Smoke Out

The Gay American Smoke Out is an opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals to challenge themselves to quit smoking. It is also an opportunity for LGBT organizations to provide resources for quitting and host fun events to raise awareness about tobacco use.

Why Gay?

To counter high prevalence rates of tobacco use among the LGBT community, awareness and culturally relevant anti-smoking messages and intervention services must be initiated. The Gay American Smoke Out is an easy, low-cost project to adopt.

The Gay American Smoke Out is an opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals to challenge themselves to quit smoking. It is also an opportunity for organizations to provide resources for quitting and host fun events to raise awareness about tobacco use.

History of the Gay American Smoke Out

The Gay American Smoke Out was first introduced in 1994 by the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center. Typically held on the 3rd Thursday in November, The "Gay American Smoke Out" was created to coincide with the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smokeout". Not meant to compete with ACS's "Great American Smokeout" but to dovetail efforts and target the LGBT community with culturally appropriate messages. Some LGBT communities have held their Gay American Smoke Out in November-others have held their Gay American Smoke Out during the month of June during Pride festivities.

In November of 1997 and with no budget, Seattle hosted their first "Gay American Smoke Out". Hosted by Project ASSIST and the American Cancer Society, they placed one ad in the Seattle Gay News and received requests for a whopping 35 Quit Kits.

Three years later, Gay City Health Project, The Seattle Lesbian Cancer Project, Public Health, The American Cancer Society and Stonewall Recovery Services combined their funds and created a budget of $4500. With this collaborative effort they advertised the Gay American Smoke Out for two weeks in two gay papers and tripled their outreach activities. They hosted booths at the Pink Zone, the Wild Rose, the Broadway Market and IKEA.

In 2000 Seattle distributed nearly 400 Quit Kits in the Seattle area. The first national Gay American Smoke Out was in 2001 with several organizations participating. Jump on board! Start planning your event! It's easy, it's fun and it is important!

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Smokers Suck!


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