Great American Smokeout aims to empower smokers to kick the habit

Nov 16, 2017

Many smokers are  being put to the test today as the Great American Smokeout is staged throughout the country. The event challenges smokers to take an early step in kicking the habit.

Anthony Billoni and Dr. Gale Burstein are encouraging smokers to kick the habit.
Credit Khalid Terrell/WBFO News

Roswell Park Cancer Institute is sponsoring the local awareness effort. It is  launched each year on the third Thursday in November to promote healthy, smoke-free lifestyles.

Anthony Billoni, director of Tobacco Free Western New York,  told WBFO the campaign has a long history.

“The Great American Smokeout has been going on for 40 years. Their goal is to talk directly to the tobacco user and encourage them to see if they could put down the tobacco for 24 hours.”

The event is not exclusive to  cigarette smokers. Erie County Health Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said others are also encouraged to participate.

“We know that kids that start smoking electronic cigarettes develop the behavior of smoking and they go right into smoking regular cigarettes. So there is nothing safe about using any type of tobacco.”

Participants are encouraged to report their progress on Twitter throughout the day.

Experts encourage those who desire to quite smoking to start by contacting a primary care physician. The New York State Smokers Quitline is also available to those who need help. The phone number is 1-866-NY-QUITS.

According to studies, tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S. More than 480,000 people in the U.S. die from illnesses related to tobacco each year.