New Hampshire Celebrates This Year’s Great American Smokeout with Higher-Education Partners

November 20, 2014|12:23 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Today is the Great American Smokeout, and health departments are encouraging smokers to quit and publicizing their cessation resources. This year, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services (NH DPHS) is celebrating the smokeout through its tobacco-prevention partnership with the state's universities and colleges.

The Great American Smokeout occurs annually on the third Thursday in November. Led by the American Cancer Society, its purposes are to raise awareness of the harms associated with tobacco use, give smokers a set day to quit or make a plan to quit, and highlight the continued need for tobacco-use prevention and cessation strategies.

Tobacco use is the largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Still, about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, 13.4 million smoke cigars, and 2.3 million smoke tobacco in pipes.

To increase the number of tobacco-free college campuses in its state, NH DPHS awarded a contract to the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire to promote tobacco-free policies and activities. This project will also cover electronic cigarette use.

A 2011 survey found that 15.3 percent of University of New Hampshire Durham students indicated that they smoke every day or some days, and 18.2 percent of students indicated that they smoke cigarettes while drinking alcohol. The health department and school systems hope that their collaboration will prevent students from becoming lifelong smokers.

"Across the U.S. and here in New Hampshire we have made great progress in reducing smoking rates and therefore smoking-related illness and death," says NH DPHS Director José Montero, "but we still have a responsibility to our youth and young adults to continue. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, but quitting has immediate and long-lasting effects. If you use tobacco, it's not too late to quit, and the Great American Smokeout is a great day to begin."

To learn more about tobacco or find resources for your health department, visit  ASTHO's Tobacco web page.