Great American Smokeout returns just before Thanksgiving

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on November 18, 2020 with No Comments

Each year on the third Thursday in November, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout.

This is an annual social engineering event to encourage Americans to stop tobacco smoking. The Great American Smokeout challenges smokers to quit cigarettes for 24 hours with the hopes that this decision will continue forever.

There are benefits to 1 day without cigarettes. After just 20 minutes without a cigarette, the heart rate drops. So does the blood pressure. Twelve hours later, the body will cleanse the carbon monoxide from the last cigarette from the body.

That’s a great start. If you make it past 1 day, your risk of heart attack begins to decrease along with heart disease and stroke. After just 1 day – keep it up.

After 2 days, things start tasting and smelling better. That’s because your nerves are healing from the smoke damage.

Day 3 may be tough. The nicotine is leaving your body and symptoms of withdrawal may occur. But you can do it.

By 1 month, you may notice you can breathe better. The coughing is less. Your lungs may be clearer.

Do you want to find out more? Visit the American Cancer Society to learn more.

To observe the Great American Smokeout, join millions of other smokers and do not smoke for the day. Support your friends and family who are trying to quit smoking. Find tips and support at the American Cancer Society. Use #GreatAmericanSmokeout to post on social media.

Evolving from a series of small-scale initiatives, the first Great American Smokeout was held on November 16, 1977, in San Francisco’s Union Square.

  • 1970 – Randolph, Massachusetts – Arthur P. Mullaney suggested people give up cigarettes for a day donating the money to a local high school.
  • 1974 – Monticello, Minnesota – Lynn R. Smith of the Monticello Times promoted a “Don’t Smoke Day”.
  • 1976 – November 18, The California Division of the American Cancer Society successfully prompted nearly one million smokers to quit for the day.

The dangers of secondhand smoke

You can get some great things secondhand–furniture, cars, high-end fashion–but secondhand smoke is not one of them.

Secondhand smoke–smoke released from the burning end of a cigarette and exhaled by a smoker–contains at least 250 toxic or cancer-causing chemicals, and breathing even small amounts for a short period of time can adversely affect your health.

Brief exposure can cause your blood platelets to stick to together, damage the lining of your blood vessels, and potentially increase your risk of having a heart attack. Breathing secondhand smoke can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.

Each year about 3,400 nonsmoking men and women die from lung cancer and around 46,000 die from heart disease caused by breathing secondhand smoke.

“While smokers can lower their risk of developing lung cancer and other diseases by quitting smoking, nonsmokers should limit their exposure to secondhand smoke by focusing on four key areas: home, work, public places, and the car,” said Cindy Paquin, American Cancer Society Health Initiatives manager in Indiana. “Of course, when it comes to limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke, you have the most control in your home and car. Make them smoke-free zones and don’t be tempted by ineffective alternatives, like smoking with a window rolled down or smoking in a different room of the house.”

Generally, you can’t control the smoking policies at public restaurants and businesses, but you can choose which places you patronize. Choose smoke-free venues. Alternatives like nonsmoking sections do not eliminate your exposure to secondhand smoke–even if you can’t smell smoke. You also can inform business owners about the hazards of secondhand smoke and encourage them to implement nonsmoking policies.

Unfortunately, the place where you likely spend a great deal of your day–work–may be one of the most difficult places to control your exposure to secondhand smoke.

According to a U.S. Surgeon General’s report, having nonsmoking policies in the workplace is the only effective way to eliminate exposure; simply cleaning the air and ventilating the building is insufficient. Communities nationwide have enacted smoke-free workplace laws to protect workers from the hazards of secondhand smoke.

To learn more about the hazards of secondhand smoke and how to prevent exposure, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or visit

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