American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout Celebrates 23rd Year
ATLANTA, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- In recognition of the fact that tobacco users are becoming younger, educating and empowering youth about the dangers of smoking is the main theme for the 23rd anniversary of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smo
``Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society; yet, everyday, approximately 6,000 children try a cigarette and about 3,000 become addicted,'' said John Seffrin, chief executive officer, American Cancer Society (ACS). ``In addition to helping smokers quit, we encourage all Americans to celebrate our Great American Smokeout by insisting that our legislators protect our children. It is critical that we tell our representatives that the tobacco settlement money must be spent only on tobacco prevention, not on sidewalks, potholes and other pet projects.''
More than $205 billion over the next 25 years will be paid to 46 states as part of the settlement to recover the Medicaid costs of tobacco-caused illness. To date, legislators have allocated less than five percent of the initial $7.3 billion payment to tobacco prevention.
Last year, nearly nine million people participated in GAS activities, which range from encouraging smokers to quit or cutback to preventing youth from starting. This year, the ACS has created a new tool to help smokers quit. ``We've created a new consumer guide on the various methods and resources that can be used by the more than 32 million smokers who want to quit,'' said Ron Todd, director, ACS Tobacco Control. The ``Set Yourself Free'' guide is available by calling 800-ACS-2345 anytime.
ACS has also added new features to http://www.Y2Kidz.org, its web site for kids and teens, to help youth act out against tobacco. The site, offering live chats and virtual post cards to legislators and loved ones, will award a computer to the kid who develops the best anti-tobacco slogan.
In addition, on November 18th American Cancer Society activities around the country will include:
-- In California, "Teens Kick Ash," a new youth-led statewide campaign to fight back against the tobacco industry's exploitation of children, has
organized events around the state. "Trashouts" will be held so kids can collect and destroy tobacco-related gear, then send it to the tobacco companies with notes to "butt out of our lives."
(Contact Alonza Robertson, 510-893-7900, ext. 223)
-- In Hawaii, a funeral at the state capitol for "Smoky," the Marlboro Man's horse, will raise awareness about the dangers of second hand smoke. The Lt. Governor will officiate with hundreds of kids singing original GAS songs.
(Contact Jackie Young, 808-595-7500, ext. 210)
-- In Utah, a Bubble Gum Blowout for first graders at Whitter Elementary school will demonstrate the importance of healthy, smoke-free lungs. Swoop, the University of Utah mascot, will judge which bubble beats all. (Contact James Jardine, 801-483-1500)
SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, ACS's partner for the past three years, will sponsor a ``Commit to Quit'' cafe in New York Times Square featuring celebrity quitter Debra Messing, the actress on the TV show ``Will and Grace.'' Ms. Messing was chosen to inspire the 47 million current smokers that they, too, can stop smoking beginning November 18. (Contact Susan Brooks, 212-601-8300)
Many ACS regional offices will also use GAS as the springboard from which to promote year-round anti-tobacco youth initiatives that include: school rallies, essay contests, pledge signings, and special events with such sports celebrities as soccer champion Brandi Chastain.
From 1991-1997, the prevalence of current cigarette smoking among high school students increased 32 percent: it increased 80 percent among African- American students, 34 percent among Hispanic students, and 28 percent among white students. More than 400,00 Americans will die from tobacco-related causes this year, which is more than those that die from AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, fires, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
November 18 is the American Cancer Society's nationally recognized day when smokers are asked to put down their cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products for the day because they all have the potential to cause cancer.
The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering cancer through research, education, advocacy, and service.
For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 800-ASC-2345 anytime, or visit the web site at http://www.cancer.org.