The Great American Smokeout: What it is and why it’s important

The Great American Smokeout occurs on the third Thursday of November every year; this year landing on November 21, 2022. The annual intervention event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) offers smokers the chance to make a commitment to leading healthy, smoke-free lifestyles. If you’ve been putting off quitting smoking, this is a great opportunity to kick the habit for good!

The Great American Smokeout was inspired by an event decades ago, in the 1970’s, in Randolph, Massachusetts. A high school guidance counselor, Arthur P. Mullaney, urged people attending the event to abstain from smoking for one day and donate what they would have spent on tobacco products to a high school scholarship fund.

Then in 1974, a newspaper editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, Lynn R. Smith, led the first ‘Don’t Smoke Day’. The movements led by Mullaney and Smith caught on, inspiring more than a million people to quit smoking for one day in 1976. By 1977, the ACS marked the first Great American Smokeout to create the tradition observing this important day on the 3rd Thursday of every November.

Positive Impacts of the Great American Smokeout: Policies and the Environment

The Great American Smokeout is key in creating awareness about smoking and its correlation with lung cancer and other diseases. The annual event has been a catalyst for significant changes that have been put into law. In 1977, Berkeley, CA, became the first community to limit smoking in public places, specifically restaurants. By 1983, San Francisco passed the first policy restricting smoking in private workplaces and in 1990, it became illegal to smoke on all medium-haul domestic flights.

The Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was passed in 1999, mandating tobacco companies to pay $206 Billion to 45 states by 2025 to cover Medicaid costs of treating smokers. Over the four decades since the first Smokeout, we’ve seen major increases in the regulation of the tobacco industry, including restrictions on advertising, promotion, sales, and manufacturing.

In 2017, ‘Big Tobacco’ finally made “corrective statements,” revealing the truth of how the industry has manipulated the American people and hidden the truth about the deadly effects of cigarettes. Among the facts that were admitted was that cigarettes were designed to contain just enough nicotine to sustain an addiction and, therefore, a habit. Major U.S. tobacco companies also revealed that there is “no safe cigarette” and that all smoking increases the risk for heart disease, lung disease, lung cancer, and more.

Lung Cancer Prevention

Smoking is responsible for 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. Now that tobacco manufacturers have admitted to the truth about smoking, one of the best ways to reduce your risk for lung cancer is to quit smoking and avoid inhaling secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke is believed to cause more than 7,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Cigarette smoke is loaded with cancer-causing agents such as carbon monoxide, aldehydes, aromatic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), N-nitrosamines, benzene, and ethylene oxide. So, when you inhale cigarette smoke, carcinogens coat your lungs.

Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about lung cancer screening, to find a lung cancer specialist right for you, and to explore cancer treatment options, including CyberKnife. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple facilities located in the Tampa Bay area. Click HERE for more information.