Get Well

American Cancer Society Marks 35th Great American Smokeout® by Encouraging Smokers to Quit and Celebrate More Birthdays

As the official sponsor of birthdays, the American Cancer Society marks the 35th Great American Smokeout on November 18 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. According to an American Cancer Society report[1], smokers who quit can expect to live as many as ten years longer (that’s ten more birthdays) than those who continue to smoke. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. In Hawai’i an estimated 770 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year and 570 will die of the disease.[2]

“Quitting smoking is an important step towards staying well and creating a world with more birthdays,” said Jackie Young, chief staff officer for the American Cancer Society Hawai’i Pacific. “The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout is a great first step towards stopping or making a plan to stop smoking. If anyone wants to stop, we encourage them to call the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-784-8669.” The Society also has online tools at, such as a crave button and a quit clock to help smokers plan towards kicking the habit for good.

Research shows that much of the risk of premature death from smoking could be prevented by quitting. Smokers, who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. Smokers who quit reduce their risk of lung cancer – ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s. Quitting also lowers the risk for other major diseases including heart disease and stroke.

“We know that quitting smoking is tough and that most smokers have to try several times before quitting for good,” said Young. “Research shows that smokers who enroll in the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline’s program have better quit rates.” The launch of the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline new enhanced services coincides with this year’s American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout. One of the enhancements to the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline service is free patches for all callers. If you have insurance, if you don’t have insurance, or if you’re on Medicaid, everyone who calls the Hawaii Tobacco Quitline receives free patches.

Here are two Great American Smokeout public events in the community.

  • O’AHU, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, 2010 Great American Smokeout Health Fair, Thursday, November 18, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Campus Center.
  • MAUI, Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, Maui, The Great American Smokeout Event-Maui, Saturday, November 20, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Kihei Kalama Beach Park.

The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and held its first Great American Smokeout in 1976 as a way to inspire and encourage smokers to quit for a day.  One million people quit smoking for a day at the 1976 event in California. The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to stop smoking for good.

Important facts about tobacco use:

  • Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Hawai’i and the nation. Roughly 237 of every 100,000 deaths in Hawai’i are estimated to be attributable to smoking.
  • Nationally, smoking results in an estimated 443,000 premature deaths each year. Additionally, 3,400 nonsmoking adults die annually of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke.
  • On average, smoking accounts for $193 billion in health care expenditures and productivity losses.
  • Tobacco use increases the risk of cancers of the lung, mouth, nasal cavities, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterine cervix, ovary and myeloid leukemia.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer.
  • Thirty percent of cancer deaths, including 87 percent of lung cancer deaths, can be attributed to tobacco.
  • In Hawai’i, 84.6 percent of the adult population (ages 18+) currently DO NOT smoke. Across all states, the prevalence of non-smokers range from a high of 90.7 percent to a low of 73.5 percent. Among all states, Hawai’i ranks 5th in the percentage of adult non-smokers.
  • Among Hawai’i’s youth ages 12-17, 93.2 percent DO NOT smoke. The range across all states is 93.5 percent to 84.1 percent non-smokers. Hawai’i ranks 2nd among the state.
  • Native Hawaiians consistently have a higher smoking rate of any ethnic group in Hawai’i and are the only ethnic group in which women (77 percent) smoke more than men (80 percent non-smokers).
  • Adults without a high school degree are three times more likely to be current smokers than those with a college degree.
  • Smokers who quit can expect to live as many as 10 years longer than those who continue to smoke. One study showed that those who quit smoking at age 60, 50, 40, or 30 gained about three, six, nine, or 10 years of life expectancy respectively.
  • Smokers who quit before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half, compared to those who continue to smoke.
  • Quitting tobacco use lowers risk for other major diseases, including heart disease and stroke.

[1] Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures 2010

[2] Cancer Facts & Figures 2010