Great American Smokeout

Not only lung cancer, but cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia are all linked to smoking cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) battles this issue daily.
Last Thursday, Nov. 15, it celebrated its 31st anniversary of the "Great American Smokeout."

Since 1976, the third Thursday in November has marked the event, spotlighting the health dangers of tobacco use and the importance of quitting smoking to improve individual health and promote better, safer communities.

"I think it’s great what they do," UVSC student Cody Hopkinson said. "I have friends who smoke, and I can see the difference there is in the ones that quit."

Out of the estimated 45.4 million Americans who smoke, 41 percent of them have tried to quit for at least one day in the past year.

A nationwide survey of former and current smokers released by the American Cancer Society found that 90 percent of former smokers and 69 percent of current smokers who have tried to quit smoking at least once did so to reduce their risk of cancer.

"I used to smoke two packs a day, Camel Lights," said Phil Gordon, UVSC professor of Communication. "Then I realized, ‘Hey Stupid, they cause cancer.’"

ACS researchers in 2006 reported that reductions in smoking account for about 40 percent of the decrease in cancer death rates among men between 1991 and 2003, and have prevented at least 146,000 cancer deaths during that time.

Although lung cancer incidence and death rates have declined overall, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, claiming the lives of an estimated 160,390 Americans this year.

Cigarette smoking is, by far, the most important risk factor for lung cancer.

In the U.S., tobacco use is responsible for nearly one in five deaths, taking approximately 438,000 lives each year.

The society has a variety of ways to help those interested in stopping their cigarette habit, including information on nicotine replacements that best suit each individual and what to do if he or she relapses.

Smokers who want to quit are urged to call the American Cancer Society Quitline at (800) ACS-2345, or log on to to make a personal plan.

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