The Great American Smokeout began in the 70’s in Massachusetts to ask people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money towards a high school scholarship fund instead. This idea caught on across the country as the American Cancer Society adopted it and got nearly 1 million smokers to quit in 1976. Historically, the Great American Smokeout was designed to help individuals to quit and to change the attitudes of society around smoking, resulting in an increase in community programing and smoke-free laws. It is believed that by starting this, many smoke-free advocacy teams have started and have taken great strides into what our tobacco-free culture is today. Just to name a few of the groundbreaking campaigns that has occurred are: truth about chemicals, suits against manufacturers, Master Settlement Agreement, “corrective statements” advertising, and many more. There is obviously more to come now with the e-cigarettes, cigarettes, and heat-not-burn products.
Although with programing, education, and preventative measures; we have decreased the amount of individuals who start smoking through raising awareness and advocacy; I always wonder what this day means to many of you?
Some say this day is just another “Hallmark holiday” that adds pressure or unnecessary attention to their smoking behavior. Then there are some who use it as a quit date or the start of a goal to get the “ball rolling.”
Making a decision to quit is a personal choice, therefore whatever way and whenever you decide to quit, just know you are making your own history whatever day it falls on!
Virginia Fitch-Braun, MS