Great American Smokeout

Great American Smokeout - Thursday, November 21, 2024

Health Awareness

What is Great American Smokeout?

The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November (November 21), 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.

If you think this holiday is about barbeque, then you’d be mistaken. While it sounds like a great barbeque competition, it’s about a challenge for people all over the United States to quit smoking. As 40 million adults still smoke yearly, this is a day to either start the first day of smoking or gives them an opportunity towards making a plan to quit smoking for good. If you want to know how to take part in this holiday, the read more to learn about its history and how you can begin the end of smoking.

History of Great American Smokeout

The first Great American Smokeout started back in 1970, where it began as a series of smaller initiatives. In Randolph, Massachusetts, Arthur P. Mullaney, a guidance counselor for the Randolph High School, suggested a day where people stop smoking and organized an event where people instead of spending their money on cigarettes would donate their money so they can form college scholarships. Using the tagline ‘Light up a Student’s Future, Not a Cigarette’, the first held event happened in 1972 and brought in $4,500 dollars in donations. Each year the donations increased and the holiday spread. The next state to take on the holiday was Minnesota, when Lynn R. Smith, an editor of the Monticello Times, launched an initiative called D-Day, which stood for Don’t Smoke Day.

From there, the California Division of the American Cancer Society adopted this holiday in 1976 and has since been successfully helping over one million smokers quit for the day. Since then, the American Cancer Society annually holds fundraising events, taking in donations, and helping smokers all over the country get the resources they need to quit smoking. The American Cancer Society provides factual information for smokers, such as the possible future health problems that could exist and the stories of smokers who have quitted and plan to quit so a community could form and people’s lives can be saved.

How to celebrate Great American Smokeout

If you’re thinking about quitting, why not team up with the thousands of other smokers who are planning to use the Great American Smokeout. Volunteer for a fundraising event. Donate money to the cause. You can also use the American Cancer Society’s resources to quit smoking for good and install a yearly plan to keep you away from tobacco products. Also, if you love this holiday, share the news of it on your favorite social media websites by using the hashtag #greatamericansmokeout.

Great American Smokeout timeline

​June 22, 2009

​The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

This new law placed specific restrictions on marketing tobacco products to children.


A limit on smoking in the workplace

San Francisco was the first city to pass restrictions banning smoking in private workplaces.

​November 16, 1977

​The Great American Smokeout was born

San Francisco held the first Great American Smokeout. From here, many other cities followed suit and the day became more widely celebrated.


Attitudes toward smoking changed​

​Throughout the '70s, people began to think about smoking differently as the negative effects became more widely known. People also started movements encouraging others to quit.

Great American Smokeout FAQs

What day is the Great American Smokeout?

The Great American Smokeout occurs annually on the third Thursday of November, meaning it lands on November 21 this year. 

When was the first Great American Smokeout?

Though the first recorded effort to get a group of people to stop smoking for a day happened in 1970 Massachusetts, the first nationwide Great American Smokeout occurred in 1977. 

What is quit for life? 

Quit for life is a tobacco addiction program and self-help book by Jamie Mushin published January 3, 2012. 

4 Famous Ex-Smokers You Never Knew Smoked At All

  1. Gwyneth Paltrow

    The Academy Award-winning actress smoked frequently as a teen and didn't decide to quit until she was pregnant with her first child.

  2. ​Barack Obama

    The former president quit with the help of Nicorette ​gum, hoping to set a good example for his daughters.

  3. ​Jennifer Aniston

    The "Friends" star quit smoking successfully by turning to yoga and other exercise to keep her mind off of cigarettes.

  4. ​Mila Kunis

    The actress admitted she used cigarettes as a way to slim down for her role in "Black Swan," but has since given up the habit.​

How to Observe Great American Smokeout

  1. Make a plan

    Learn about options to curb cravings and get your support system ready to help you through hard times. If you're trying to help someone else quit, check out some ways to ensure you're doing it the right way.

  2. Get rid of anything smoking-related

    It's the perfect day to remove all smoking-related items from your home. Remove all cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters from your car and workplace as well. Also consider stocking up on substitutes like gum and crunchy snacks.

  3. Reflect on your smoking past

    If you've tried to quit before, the Great American Smokeout is a good time to reflect on your past attempts. Think about why those attempts didn't work, and go back to the drawing board for the next time around. 

Why Great American Smokeout is Important

  1. A single day can help people take the first step

    The Great American Smokeout highlights the dangers of smoking tobacco and provides a meaningful way for people to avoid cigarettes. It also offers a comfortable environment for family members and friends to speak about tobacco and how to quit smoking.

  2. It brings people together

    Not only does the Great American Smokeout speak to the negative effects of smoking, but it also helps people come together in the name of quitting. People trying to quit can communicate with one another online using the hashtag #GreatAmericanSmokeout, or by attending local events in various cities.

  3. It provides resources to quit

    The American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout website provides resources, news, and stories about the journey to quit smoking. Smokers can find inspiration and tips to increase their chances of quitting successfully.

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