American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to quit

American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to quit


The American Cancer Society (ACS) has a challenge for Illinois smokers: QUIT for a day—then make it a lifelong habit.

Nov. 21, 2002, the Society marks its 26th annual Great American Smokeout, a nationwide effort to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco use and to encourage smokers to quit for a lifetime by starting with just one day.

In Illinois alone, an estimated 18,400 smokers die each year from tobacco use. Another 1,600 to 2,850 adults, children and babies die from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. However, lung cancer has the potential to be the most preventable cancer since eight out of 10 cases of lung cancer are believed to be caused by tobacco use. Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to heart disease, other forms of cancer, emphysema and asthma.

“Tobacco use kills more people than AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, alcohol, murders and suicides combined,” said Christine Duranceau, M.D., Ph.D., president, American Cancer Society, Northern Region Board of Directors. “The Society’s Great American Smokeout is a perfect opportunity for smokers to take that first step to kick this very addictive and unhealthy habit.”

The Smokeout grew out of a 1971 event in Massachusetts in which residents of one town (Randolph) were asked to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. In 1975, the California Division of the American Cancer Society succeeded in getting nearly one million smokers to quit for the day and gave birth to the first Smokeout, which went nationwide in 1977.

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering through research, education, advocacy and service.

The Illinois Division of the Society has more than 120,000 volunteers and 250 staff in 15 regional offices. For information about cancer, call toll-free anytime 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the American Cancer Society Web site at

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