The Great American Smokeout 2023

The State of Lung Cancer

The Great American Smokeout 2023 is here. I celebrate it annually because I know people, including my dear grandmother Agatha Green, whose life was certainly shortened – she died at the age of 62 – because of those coffin nails.

“About 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths.

“While the rates of cigarette smoking have declined over the past several decades, from 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2019, the gains have been inconsistent. Some groups smoke more heavily or at higher rates and suffer disproportionately from smoking-related cancer and other diseases. These populations tend to be those who experience inequities in multiple areas of their lives, including those at lower socioeconomic levels, those without college degrees, American Indians/Alaska natives, African American/Black communities, LGBTQ communities, those in the military, those with behavioral health conditions, and others. “

The State of Lung Cancer report from the American Lung Association has some mixed news. While the disease remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among both women and men, over the past five years, the survival rate has increased by 22% nationally to 26.6%. 

  • Tobacco use is the leading risk factor for lung cancer, accounting for 80 to 90% of cases. While we have seen historic decreases in the national smoking rate, not all Americans or regions of the country have benefited equally. 
  • Secondhand smoke has also been shown to cause lung cancer. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The “State of Lung Cancer” report highlights that making homes, workplaces, and public spaces smoke-free air zones, with no smoking allowed, can reduce the risk of exposure. This report’s sister, “State of Tobacco Control,” grades states for efforts to protect public spaces from secondhand smoke. 

I found this tidbit from the September 20, 2023, Los Angeles Times to be curious. “In 1998, California adopted a pricey cigarette ‘sin tax’ to discourage smoking. The money was used to create a network of agencies to help young families by funding preschools, pediatric health care, literacy projects, and, among the most successful services, maternal home care visits. But as the number of smokers dwindles, funding for the agencies is plummeting, putting them at risk.” Clearly, the value of people not smoking outweighs the funding loss of these programs.

Quitting Never Felt So Good

November 17 is the 2022 Great American Smokeout

quitting never felt so goodThere’s a website called Quit Assist to help folks stop smoking cigarettes. The motto is Quitting Never Felt So Good. “There are hundreds of programs, telephone quitlines, websites, apps, and other tools available to help you quit and stay tobacco-free. Many resources are free or low-cost. Here is a partial list to help you get started.”

Thursday, November 17, is the 2022 Great American Smokeout. I hope you can quit smoking. If not for you, then do it for me. Or someone like me.

My father used to smoke cigarettes, Winstons. I remember it well because he would send me to the corner store to buy them for him, starting when I was five or six. This was back in the day when they’d let minors purchase tobacco. This really irritated me. The store at Front and Gaines was only three very small house lots away. Why didn’t he get his own darn cigarettes?

Of course, I never said that. Still, I ALWAYS hated the smell and the taste of the smoke in the air. When I was a little older, and he had graduated to having me buy cartons, I would occasionally steal a pack from time to time, hoping the added expense would get him to at least cutback. Nah. He’d just say, “Give me back my cigarettes.”

These are the good old days

Of course, cigarettes were much more prevalent when I was growing up, with the coffin nails allowed in planes; smoke didn’t know to stop at the non-smoking section, I’ve learned.

It takes me a little by surprise, then, to confront tobacco these days. Those folks who stand just outside the door to a building when they’re supposed to be 20 feet away. Some dude moves away from the hospital onto a path that everyone going that way must pass. Or those who can’t seem to be able to read the quite visible “no smoking” signs in the bus kiosks because they need to light up there, especially when it’s windy and/or rainy. Am I supposed to stand out in bad weather?

Smoking makes me particularly grumpy because I have an annoyingly acute sense of smell. I can sometimes pick up the scent ten meters away. It’s a bit of a curse when our next-door neighbor is puffing away on their property line.

So, at the bare minimum, be aware of your environment when you light up. Better still, save your money. Cigarettes are expensive these days, especially in New York, where they’re about $12 a pack. I swear they were 35 cents when I grudgingly bought them for dad.

Great American Smokeout 2020

“They all are”

Great American SmokeoutIn a normal year, I would have been long aware of the Great American Smokeout 2020. I might have written about it a month or two ago. Of course, I needn’t tell you the obvious.

“The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout® is an annual event that encourages and offers support to smokers to make a plan to quit smoking or to quit smoking on the day of the event – the third Thursday in November each year. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step toward a healthier life and reducing their cancer risk.”

Yeah, but you’ve given up so much already this year! Someone wants you to quit tobacco too? Well, yeah.

“Being a current or former cigarette smoker increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“If you currently smoke, quit. Now, if you used to smoke, don’t start again. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. Counseling from a healthcare provider and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications can double the chances of quitting smoking. For help quitting smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit

My sort of relative Arnold

Arnold Berman, the brother of my late great-aunt Charlotte I loved communicating with. He died in 2018, I believe, though my sense of time is shot to heck. He noted a few years ago, “You should know that the US Surgeon General was shamefully late with that first report.

Then this personal reflection. “I started smoking in 1939 at the age of 15 – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1952 I read the reports from Sweden clearly linking cigarette smoking with lung cancer. I discovered that this was old news with such reports dating back at least 10 years. Weighing this against the benefits of smoking I quit cold turkey – I was pretty sophisticated. In 1953 my wife of three years and I split. Wallowing in self-pity I started smoking again.

“In 2001 I discovered that I had an advanced abdominal aortic aneurysm and agreed to have open surgery for repair. My California daughter, a nurse-midwife, called the surgeon’s office to inform them that I was a smoker. She reported to me that the response was ‘they all are; that’s why they’re here.’ I gave up smoking for good.”

Great American Smokeout 2018: e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes and youth don’t mix

About this time last year, tobacco companies in the United States were required to spend “money on TV ads again — not to sell cigarettes, but to warn against them…

“The campaign is the culmination of an 18-year legal battle in which the federal government sought to recover billions of dollars in health care related to tobacco-caused illnesses. After lengthy litigation, the court-mandated remedy is anti-smoking ads that will begin running in newspapers… and on TV… for a year.”

A complicating item in the tobacco marketplace is the growth of e-cigarettes. They are less deadly than regular cigarettes, and therefore perhaps a legitimate alternative to smoking for extant smokers. Conversely, e-cigarettes and youth don’t mix.

The Centers for Disease Control declares:

*The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
*Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.
*E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
*Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
Arguably, the e-cigarette manufacturers have been targeting the young adult with their “fun” flavors

Breaking news: Juul will stop selling most e-cigarette flavors in stores and end social media promotion, bowing to F.D.A. pressure to curb teenage vaping.

I had a friend, Donna, who was often trying to quit smoking cigarettes, mostly because she knew how much I hated them. She developed brain cancer about a decade and a half ago. Figuring it didn’t matter, she resumed smoking yet again. I’m convinced those latter cigarettes even more agonizing right before she died.

Today is the Great American Smokeout, “an annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS)… This social engineering event focuses on encouraging Americans to quit tobacco smoking. People are challenged to stop smoking for at least 24 hours assuming that their decision not to smoke will last longer, hopefully forever. Today, more than 43 million people in the United States smoke cigarettes, that is about 1 in 5 adults.”

Here are 15+ Of The Most Powerful Anti-Smoking Ads Ever Created, CDC’s anti-smoking ad campaign, and Powerful Anti Smoking Ads That Will Make You Quit. (Oh that it were so easy!)

I’ve seen this one a lot: CDC: Tips From Former Smokers – Terrie’s Tip Ad

Great American Smokeout 2016

I have no idea what kind of impact the anti-smoking The Truth campaign has.


Tomorrow is the Great American Smokeout 2016. i don’t know how successful it is, but I am in favor.

In the kiosks for the Capital District Transit Authority, where one waits for buses, there are very prominent signs directing people NOT to smoke in there.

Naturally, it’s right under those very signs that folks are MOST likely to light up, not unlike this picture. I’ve been tempted to take surreptitious photos of this phenomenon and post them online, but my concern for their privacy, alas, trumps doing that.

My hatred for cigarette smoke is well-documented. The Daughter, who has asthma, likewise hates it. I probably mentioned that I once lied and told someone I had asthma to prevent him from smoking in the early 1970s.

I walk down the path between my house and the next one – passing by a treasure trove of cigarette butts – and, long before I turn the corner, I can tell there are smokers on the front porch of the house on the neighbor to my right.

If I go out the front door, it’s usually the old man, standing on the sidewalk, puffing away, as far away from the house on the left, and therefore, as close to our house, as possible, and still be on the other side of the property line. We all can smell it, and occasionally, even in our house.

I also have no idea what kind of impact The Truth campaign has. But The Daughter pointed out these ads that she liked, so:

#FinishIT | Smoking Gap | truth

#Squadless | Peepaw | truth

#Squadless | Photoshop | truth

Truth Campaign Calls Out Celebrity Smokers

There are PLENTY more of these, geared to a demographic somewhat younger than I. If you smoke, quit, if not for your sake, then for mine.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial