Smokers urged to quit Nov. 20

Even with fewer Oklahomans smoking than in years previous, the State Health Department still lists smoking as the leading preventable cause of death for state residents.

Organizers behind the upcoming Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov 20, are working to change this.

The Great American Smokeout is a national event that takes place annually on the third Thursday every November.

The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to quit smoking or to commit to quitting on this day. offers resources to help smokers build a plan for quitting. Their site also offers education for smokers and non-smokers about cancer and other issues pertaining to their health and the health of those around them.

According to the American Cancer Society, the annual Great American Smokeout stems from an event in 1970. It was a day in which Arthur P. Mullaney, a guidance counselor at a Randall, Massachusetts, high school, implored event attendees to give up smoking for one day and to donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

Similar events took place regularly in years after, drawing attention to the deaths and illnesses brought on by smoking, according to

The American Cancer Society’s California division inspired nearly one million smokers to quit for the day on Nov. 18, 1976, marking the first ever, official Great American Smokeout, according to their site.

In 1977, the event was taken to a national level and has recurred annually on the third Thursday of November since.

According to, state and local governments first began their wide response to growing public concern in the 1980s. Legislation developed that would curb smoking in certain public places and regulate advertising for tobacco.

In 2011, OCCC became a tobacco-free campus, embracing a mainstream view of smoking that has shifted widely since the days before the first Great American Smokeout.

For Oklahomans ready to quit smoking, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline offers resources and proven techniques to help smokers through their toll free hotline 1-800-QUIT-NOW, and their website

They offer free nicotine replacement gums, patches and lozenges to registered participants.

These services are paid for through the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.

According to, this is a trust established through a master settlement agreement stemming from a 1996 lawsuit. The suit was filed among 46 states against the four largest tobacco companies in the U.S.

The settlement established this fund to provide a public service for the prevention and reduction of tobacco use.

To learn more about the Great American Smokeout or to plan your day to quit smoking, visit

For resources and information to help you quit visit

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