If you read it in a novel, it would be hard to believe. In some dystopian world, human beings struck fire to dried leaves and inhaled through tubes of paper. They kept doing this year after year, generation after generation, despite well-known evidence that it kills people. They continued even when death warnings were printed on the package, and even when relatives and loved ones died indisputably from the practice. Eerie and frightening. But true, as we all know.
Fast forward to 2018, and an actor friend of ours saw a show revived on Broadway in which he had appeared originally decades ago. The play is set at a party in the late 1960s. Of the performances in the play’s revival, our actor friend observed, “Nobody knows how to smoke anymore.”
The Great American Smokeout has been part of that remarkable evolution. It had true grass-roots beginnings, and yet it so clearly was an idea whose time had come, that it spread around the world, and rapidly. Now observed each year on the third Thursday of November, the Great American Smokeout is credited with hastening the spread of smoke-free public spaces. The attention and information that resulted from the Smokeout encouraged public officials to adopt regulations that recognize smoking for what it truly is, a serious threat to public health and well-being.
Beginning with a Day
Just as a person’s new path as a nonsmoker begins with a single day, the Great American Smokeout began one day in 1970. The residents of Randolph, Massachusetts, were challenged to put down their cigarettes for a day and donate the money saved to a local high school. This grassroot beginning spread in 1974, when Monticello, Minnesota, promoted a Don’t Smoke Day, and, in 1976, the California division of the American Cancer Society promoted the first Smokeout, prompting nearly one million smokers there to quit for a day.
The Greatest Single Step
Smoking is the most merciless threat we face. No type of warfare, no terrorist threat, no viral or bacterial disease has taken so many lives. Smoking is still the No. 1 cause of premature death in the United States. It is the largest single cause of preventable disease. It damages nearly every organ of the body. And it is an addiction, so quitting requires a kind of recovery.
Although many of us do know a person or two who quit “cold turkey,” just stopping suddenly is not the norm. For the clear majority of persons, smoking cessation takes effort, resources, and a bit of outside help. Studies show that the people most likely to succeed in quitting cigarettes use some form of program or medical supervision to help. We’d be happy to become the source of that help for you. Just call us at 843-815-6468.