Today is 45th annual Great American Smokeout

Published 8:12 am Thursday, November 19, 2020

Cancer patients and survivors are marking the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 45th annual Great American Smokeout today by calling on state lawmakers to protect the health of Kentucky residents by passing strong tobacco control legislation. As our battle with COVID-19 continues, we must do everything in our power to keep our communities healthy and safe—which means building strong public health infrastructure including comprehensive tobacco control measures.

As the advocacy affiliate of ACS, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is working to ensure the General Assembly protects funding for tobacco cessation and prevention programs during the 2021 legislative session.

“Nearly 70% of people who currently smoke cigarettes want to quit, and the Great American Smokeout is about helping people reach that important goal. We know preserving Kentucky’s funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs will help people quit and save lives,” said Kristy Young, ACS CAN government relations director. “People who smoke or who used to smoke are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 so the sooner we can help Kentuckians quit, the better. Health benefits begin occurring quickly after quitting smoking, including rapid improvements in blood carbon monoxide levels and in respiratory tract function, as well as slower improvements over time in immune function.”

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Reducing Big Tobacco’s grip on Kentucky is crucial to decreasing death rates from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco industry marketing strategies have also led to significant disparities in tobacco use including higher use of tobacco products among people with lower incomes, Blacks, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and LGBTQ+ individuals. The lack of comprehensive tobacco control laws and funding at the state level can contribute to the negative effects of the industry’s deadly tactics.

“While we’ve made progress in tobacco control, we have to remember that we have a long way to go when it comes to combatting Big Tobacco’s influence and protecting our communities from tobacco’s toll,” said Young.

The use of tobacco products remains the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, killing more than 480,000 Americans, and costing $170 billion in health care costs and $151 billion in lost productivity annually.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit