Nov 202003
Authors: Ben Bleckley

Each year on the third Thursday in November, smokers nationwide

make the commitment to quit for one day.

According to the American Cancer Society Web site,, the event started in 1971 when a Massachusetts

resident named Arthur P. Mullaney asked community members to quit

smoking for one day and donate the money they would have spent on

tobacco to a local school. In 1974, the editor of the Monticello

Times, Lynn Smith, promoted the first D-Day, Don’t Smoke Day.

The American Cancer Society’s California division had the first

smokeout on Nov. 19, 1976, and the event spread nationwide the next


Hartshorn Health Services celebrated the 27th Great American

Smokeout with events to educate, inform and reward Thursday.

Historically, the smokeout has been driven by education on the

harmful bodily effects of tobacco. This year, however, Hartshorn

chose to focus more on the environmental impact.

“It’s an issue that’s not really in the forefront,” said Gwen

Sieving, a health educator with Hartshorn Health Services. “I don’t

think people realize the danger and the pollution that cigarettes


A handout at the event reported that most cigarettes are not

biodegradable. The cigarette’s tobacco and paper decompose quickly,

but the plastic filter can take years to biodegrade.

According to a Clean Virginia Waterways study, one butt in two

gallons of water kills water fleas, which are crucial to aquatic

food chains.

Another goal was to reward smokers who obey the new city

ordinance, said Chris Devault, a senior economics major and former

smoker who helped plan the events on campus. Smokers found lighting

up 20 feet or more from buildings were rewarded with coupons for

free pizza and burritos.

There was a kissing booth for those who didn’t smoke.

Resources were also available for those who wanted to quit,

including brochures and contacts.

“This isn’t a day about shaming smokers, it’s about how to

confront that issue and give them solutions,” Sieving said. “We’re

not here to say ‘Don’t smoke, don’t smoke.’ If you want to quit, we

have resources.”

Info Box:

Want to quit but don’t know how? Try these resources:

Smoking Cessation Counseling (970) 491-3084

Colorado Quitline 1-800-639-QUIT

Colorado Quitnet





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