The American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout is celebrating its 20th anniversary today by making a special effort to dissuade teens from smoking.
Youths between 11 and 18 years old - who weren’t even born when the Great American Smokeout began in California in 1976 to urge people to give up cigarettes - are at the age when people are most likely to begin smoking.
Although the smoking rate of American adults has dropped from 36 percent to 25 percent since the inception of the Great American Smokeout, cancer society statistics show teen smokers have increased - from 27.5 percent to 34.8 percent.
“Adults who smoke are just (grown) kids who couldn’t quit,” said Shelly Huff, spokeswoman for the cancer society’s Santa Clara County unit. “And teen girls are smoking even more than boys. We’re targeting this age range so they won’t start.”
The teen campaign, aimed specifically at middle school students, is being billed as the Great American SmokeSCREAM.
According to the cancer society, 158,700 Americans will have died of lung cancer during 1996.
The Great American Smokeout aims to encourage people to give up cigarettes or cigars for one day in the hope that they’ll gain the confidence to give them up permanently.
xxxx FOR KIDS You can visit the American Cancer Society’s Web site at www.cancer.org/smokeout. It’s designed for kids 9 and up.