In the wake of the Prop 19 vote in California, there may be a contingent that giggles when they hear the name “Great American Smokeout.” In fact, the day is to honor quite the opposite. Held on the third Thursday of November, this day is to encourage Americans to stop smoking tobacco. The American Cancer Society staged the first Smokeout in 1977. Each year since, it remains a challenge for people to stop smoking cigarettes for 24 hours in the hopes their decision to stop will be for good.

As a former cigarette smoker who has lost close ones due to lung cancer, this is a day that I believe in. My best friend lost his mother when we were in high school due to emphysema, but that wasn’t enough for me to quit. It took losing my grandfather to lung cancer to finally give up smoking cigarettes. Perhaps if this challenge would have been presented to them, they’d be challenging others today.

The Great American Smokeout can even be an opportunity to visit inboxes and challenge your subscribers. Don’t get preachy or bum people out with statistics. Make it positive. If sent to other businesses, suggest they challenge their employees. Businesses can offer a reward (pizza party, gift certificate, etc) for their employees who don’t take a smoke break for the whole day. Maybe even offer up healthy ways to quit smoking. At the very least, people might open your email expecting details on a Texas-style BBQ or a new Cheech and Chong movie.

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