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TCHCC promotes Great American Smokeout

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. On November 15th, the Thayer County Healthy Communities Coalition (TCHCC) would like to encourage smokers to use this date to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance and then quit smoking that day. TCHCC youth members will be creating activism projects throughout the county to encourage current smokers to quit and teenagers to never start.  
So how did the Great American Smokeout begin? The Smokeout has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about smoking. These changes have led to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives in many states. Annual Smokeouts began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were commonplace.
The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew from a 1971 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. 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 (ACS) got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Smokeout, and the Society took it nationwide in 1977. Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way society views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and workplaces are now smoke-free, protecting non-smokers and supporting smokers who want to quit.
Each year, the Great American Smokeout draws attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, many state and local governments responded by banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, raising taxes on cigarettes, limiting cigarette promotions, discouraging teen cigarette use, and taking further action to counter smoking. These efforts continue today.
Because of the efforts of individuals and groups that have led anti-tobacco efforts, there have been significant landmarks in the areas of research, policy, and the environment:
•In 1977, Berkeley, California became the first community to limit smoking in restaurants and other public places.
•In 1983, San Francisco passed the first strong workplace smoking restrictions, including bans on smoking in private workplaces.
•In 1990, the federal smoking ban on all interstate buses and domestic flights of 6 hours or less took effect.
•In 1994, Mississippi filed the first of 24 state lawsuits seeking to recuperate millions of dollars from tobacco companies for smoking-related illnesses paid for by Medicaid.
•In 1999, the Department of Justice filed suit against cigarette manufacturers, charging the industry with defrauding the public by lying about the risks of smoking.
•In 1999, the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) was passed, requiring tobacco companies to pay $206 billion to 45 states by the year 2025 to cover Medicaid costs of treating smokers. The MSA agreement also closed the Tobacco Institute and ended cartoon advertising and tobacco billboards.
•In 2009, The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law. It gives the FDA the authority to regulate the sale, manufacturing, and marketing of tobacco products and protects children from the tobacco industry’s marketing practices.
Those states with strong tobacco control laws are now reaping the fruits of their labor. From 1965 to today, cigarette smoking among adults in the United States decreased from over 42% to around 20%. Strong smoke-free policies, media campaigns, and increases in the prices of tobacco products are at least partly credited for these decreases.
Still, today about 1 in 5 US adults smoke cigarettes (that’s more than 45 million people). And about 15 million people smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. More than 80% of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking. Smoking also causes cancers of the larynx (voice box), mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), and bladder. It also has been linked to the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, ovary (mucinous), colon/rectum, kidney, stomach, and some types of leukemia. Cigars and pipes cause cancers, too.
Smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people live with serious illnesses caused by smoking
Fortunately, the past few decades have seen great strides in changing attitudes about smoking, understanding the addiction, and learning how to help people quit. Today, the Smokeout is celebrated with rallies, parades, stunts, quitting information, and even “cold turkey” menu items in schools, workplaces, Main Streets, and legislative halls throughout the US.
Visit www.cancer.org to learn more about quitting smoking, or getting involved with the Great American Smokeout in your community. Or just call your American Cancer Society any time at 1-800-227-2345

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