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The Great American Smokeout -- November 21, 1996

Since 1977, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has sponsored the Great American Smokeout to foster community-based activities that encourage smokers to stop smoking for at least 24 hours. This year, the Great American Smokeout is Thursday, November 21. The primary goal of this year's event is to prevent initiation of tobacco use among children and adolescents.

Most smokers began smoking as teenagers (1); each day, approximately 6000 young persons try a cigarette and approximately 3000 become daily smokers (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, unpublished data, 1994). Among persons who have ever smoked daily, 82% began smoking before age 18 years (1). In August 1996, the Executive Branch of the federal government announced the nation's first comprehensive program to prevent children and adolescents from smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco (2).

Events this year will include a program to encourage high school-aged children to sign a Great American Smokeout pledge promising to stay smoke-free or to try to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout. In addition, ACS volunteers will conduct smoking-cessation and -prevention activities for persons of all ages at shopping malls, worksites, hospitals, military installations, and other locations.

Additional information is available from the ACS, telephone (800) 227-2345 or (404) 320-3333; CDC, telephone (800) 232-1311 or (770) 488-5705; or the ACS Great American Smokeout website on the World Wide Web (http://www.

Reported by: American Cancer Society, Atlanta. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC.


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Preventing tobacco use among young people: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Regulations restricting the sale and distribution of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to protect children and adolescents: final rule. Federal Register 1996;61:44396-5318.

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