Great American Smokeout urges smokers to quit

The American Cancer Society's 37th Great American Smokeout, which takes place November 15, encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide will die during the 21st century because of tobacco use, according to the "Tobacco Atlas," published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation.

Tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and 80% of lung cancer deaths, the organization noted. In the U.S., tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths, or about 443,000 premature deaths each year. Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. In just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and in about one to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for the Great American Smokeout and held its first one in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day. At the 1976 event in California, 1 million people quit smoking for a day.

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