Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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Join the American Cancer Society for the Great American Smokeout on Thursday and be a quitter

Tobacco Atlas estimates 1 billion people will die worldwide during 21st century if they don't quit smoking

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[November 13, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- As "the official sponsor of birthdays," the American Cancer Society marks the 37th Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide will die during the 21st century because of tobacco use, according to The Tobacco Atlas, published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation. The American Cancer Society provides tips and tools online to help smokers quit tobacco for good.

"Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States," said Katherine L. Griem, M.D., president of the American Cancer Society's Illinois Division. "Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health, and the Great American Smokeout is a great way to start."

Tobacco use accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 80 percent of lung cancer deaths. In the U.S., tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths, or about 443,000 premature deaths each year. Smokers who quit, regardless of age, live longer than people who continue to smoke. In just 20 minutes after quitting smoking, heart rate and blood pressure drop, and in about one to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease.

The American Cancer Society created the trademarked concept for and had 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 Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to commit to making a long-term plan to quit smoking for good. Tips and tools to help quit smoking are available at http://www.cancer.org/healthy/

Important facts about tobacco use from The Tobacco Atlas, Fourth Edition, newly published by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation:

  • Cigarette smoking costs the United States more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity, plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

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  • In 2011, tobacco use killed almost 6 million people, with nearly 80 percent of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

  • An estimated 600,000 people die annually because of secondhand smoke.


The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience in order to save lives and work toward ending cancer. As a global grass-roots force of 3 million volunteers, the organization fights for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. The American Cancer Society saves lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early, helping people get well by being there for them during and after a diagnosis, finding cures through groundbreaking discovery, and fighting back through public policy. As the nation's largest nongovernmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.8 billion, the organization turns what is known about cancer into what people do about it. As a result, an estimated 13.7 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about the American Cancer Society or to get help, call 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night, or visit cancer.org.

[Text from file received from the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division]

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