New York State Health Commissioner Urges Cigarette Smokers to Participate in the Great American Smokeout

State Health Department Offers Tips, Services to Help Smokers Quit

To Quit Smoking Contact the New York State Smokers' Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or Visit

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 16, 2022) – With tobacco use as a leading preventable cause of disease and death, the New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett is encouraging cigarette smokers to give up cigarettes for 24 hours as part of the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 17. The Great American Smokeout is a nationwide quit smoking challenge sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

"Smoking is an addiction, and giving it up is challenging," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. "If you or a loved one smokes cigarettes, consider participating in the Great American Smokeout challenge and taking the first step toward permanently quitting smoking. I also encourage New Yorkers who want to quit smoking or know someone who wants to quit to use the Great American Smokeout as an opportunity to ask for help. Medical professionals can help smokers who want to stop by offering counseling and medicines."

The Great American Smokeout occurs each year on the third Thursday of November and encourages smokers across the nation to make a plan to quit, or plan in advance to quit on the day of the Smokeout. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco, provides information and tools on how to quit, and calls attention to the ongoing problems caused by cigarette smoking.

According to the ACS, the idea for the Great American Smokeout grew out of an event in 1970 in Randolph, Massachusetts. Arthur P. Mullaney, a guidance counselor, asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they saved to a scholarship fund. On November 18, 1976, the California division of the ACS launched the first Smokeout when they convinced nearly a million smokers to quit for the day. The following year, they took the event nationwide.

Although tobacco use is at record lows in New York State, approximately 1.7 million New Yorkers continue to smoke cigarettes. Every year in New York, smoking kills 21,000 adults. Another 1,400 New Yorkers die every year from exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke.

Disparities and inequities in cigarette smoking and addiction persist among adults in New York State and nationally. Research has shown that adults who smoke more frequently than the general adult population are those who are enrolled in Medicaid, are unemployed, earn less than $25,000 annually, report frequent mental distress, have less than a high school education and/or live with a disability.

The Department's Bureau of Tobacco Control administers the state's comprehensive Tobacco Control Program to reduce illness, disability, and death related to commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and to alleviate social and economic inequities caused by tobacco use. The program uses an evidence-based, policy-driven, and population-level approach to tobacco control and prevention with a commitment to promote health equity among populations disproportionately impacted by tobacco marketing and use. The Tobacco Control Program's efforts and actions have contributed to record-low youth and adult smoking rates in New York State.

There has never been a better time to quit smoking and begin living a smokefree life. For help with quitting, including counseling and medication, talk to your healthcare provider. For information on how to quit smoking, the New York State Smokers' Quitline provides free and confidential services that include information, tools, quit coaching, and support in both English and Spanish. Services are available by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487), texting (716) 309-4688, or visiting, for information, to chat online with a Quit Coach, or to sign up for Learn2QuitNY, a six-week, step-by-step text messaging program to build the skills you need to quit any tobacco product.

More information about the Department's Tobacco Control Program is available here.