The Great American Smokeout is Thursday; Make November 21 Your Day to Quit Smoking

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

BUFFALO, NY — Western New Yorkers are being encouraged to give up tobacco and nonsmokers are asked to support their loved ones as they stop smoking for the 38th Great American Smokeout.

On Thursday, November 21, the date of the Smokeout, thousands of smokers around the state are expected to commit to quit smoking for 24 hours and beyond. The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is teaming up with health care professionals and community leaders to spread the word that the Great American Smokeout is the day to stop smoking.

The annual event has been going strong since the 1970s, when the American Cancer Society (ACS) first urged smokers across the United States to use the date to make a plan to stop smoking.

“We’ve made substantial progress in the fight against tobacco since 1954, when an American Cancer Society study confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer,” said JoAnna Jacob, Senior Representative, Community Engagement at the American Cancer Society. “However, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Quitting smoking can save your life, and the Great American Smokeout is a great way to start.”

Western New York has some of the highest smoking rates in the state. In Erie County, the smoking rate is 26 percent and in Niagara country, the smoking rate is 27 percent. Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “Tobacco takes a huge toll on Erie County residents. Smoking is the major cause of lung cancer, contributing to 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women and 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men. Tobacco also is an important risk for myocardial infarction and other coronary events. Quitting smoking at any age will help reduce the health risks associated with tobacco use.”

The Great American Smokeout also is an opportunity to raise awareness about the many local programs that help to create tobacco-free communities.

“Communities can de-normalize tobacco by using the resources offered by organizations such as the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition and the services of the New York State Smokers’ Quitline — both of which are located at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. These organizations, using evidence-based approaches, guide community leaders with technical advice on creating strong tobacco-free laws and programs to help smokers,” added Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park.

Anthony Billoni, Director of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, continued, “The Great American Smokeout has helped bring about dramatic changes in people’s attitudes toward tobacco and smoking. These changes have led to community programs and tobacco-free laws that are now saving lives. While tobacco smoking rates have declined significantly across most of New York State, the high rates in Erie and Niagara counties demonstrate there is much work to be done.”

Important facts about tobacco:

  • More than 25,000 New Yorkers die prematurely every year due to tobacco use.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke kills an additional 2,500 people.
  • More than a half a million New Yorkers are suffering with serious diseases caused by smoking.
  • Tobacco use costs New Yorkers more than $8 billion in health care costs, including $2.7 billion in Medicaid costs.
  • 60 percent of cancers could be avoided if people stopped using tobacco.
  • Despite significant drops in the youth smoking rate, there are still more than 100,000 high school students who smoke in New York State and every year nearly 20,000 kids become new daily smokers.

For information and help to stop smoking, visit the New York State Smokers’ Quitline website at or call 1-866-NY-QUITS.

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, established in 1993 and located at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY, is a member of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control. The Coalition is a community-based organization creating a healthier Western New York with the adoption of tobacco-free initiatives. The Coalition strives to reduce retail tobacco marketing, supports property owners and tenants in creating smoke-free housing, and provides technical assistance to establish tobacco-free parks, entrance ways and properties. To learn more, visit our website, friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


About Roswell Park

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager