By Steven Daugherty
Each year, the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Council (ADAC) actively promotes The Great American Smokeout, a nationwide event aimed at decreasing tobacco use and raising awareness about the devastating impact of smoking on our health. This campaign plays a pivotal role in preventing deaths and chronic illnesses caused by smoking.
The Great American Smokeout has been instrumental in reshaping American attitudes towards smoking, leading to the implementation of life-saving smoke-free laws and community programs nationwide. The concept originated from a 1970 event in Massachusetts, where Arthur P. Mullaney encouraged people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money to a high school scholarship fund. Subsequently, the idea spread, with Minnesota’s D-Day in 1974 and California’s event in 1976, where nearly one million smokers participated. The American Cancer Society then made it a national initiative in 1977. These efforts have significantly altered the public’s view of tobacco use and advertising, resulting in the establishment of smoke-free spaces and workplaces, protecting non-smokers and aiding those looking to quit.
During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, numerous state and local authorities responded proactively by enforcing workplace and restaurant smoking prohibitions, increasing tobacco taxes, curtailing cigarette marketing activities, actively discouraging adolescent cigarette consumption, and persistently pursuing measures to combat smoking. These initiatives remain ongoing in our time, reflecting a sustained commitment to public health.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Smoking is directly responsible for approximately 90% of lung cancer deaths and approximately 80% of deaths caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including emphysema and chronic bronchitis (Source: Regional Needs Assessment 2023, ADAC).
Participating in The Great American Smokeout involves taking steps to quit smoking and supporting others in their efforts to quit. This initiative offers a chance for individuals to embrace a smoke-free lifestyle, seeking support from friends, family, or dedicated quit-smoking programs. It also encourages people to extend their understanding and assistance to friends and family members who are committed to quitting smoking. Beyond personal actions, participation includes spreading awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and the advantages of quitting, both on social media and within local communities.
For more information, call the free smoking quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or reach out to the Alcohol and Drug Awareness Council at 936-634-5743. You can also receive more information at www.adacdet.org and www.cancer.org.
Steven Daugherty works as public relations coordinator of Region 5 Prevention Resource Center.