News and Events

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Desoto County Celebrates the Great American Smoke Out
November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013 was the 37th Annual Great American Smoke Out, the annual day set aside by the American Cancer Society to encourage smokers to quit, if only for one day. This year for the Great American Smoke Out, the Tobacco Free Partnership of DeSoto County partnered with the City of Arcadia and DeSoto Memorial Hospital.

The City of Arcadia mailed out inserts with cessation information, and the local Tobacco Prevention Specialists were available to employees to help answer questions about cessation.

DeSoto Memorial Hospital combined the Great American Smoke Out with a hospital wide Halloween event to raise money for the hospital. They provided cessation information to employees in the cafeteria next to the money buckets. They kidnapped a skeleton from one of the departments and held it for ransom. Each department had a different bucket to drop money in. It was a creative way to raise money by creating competition between departments.

DeSoto County Tobacco Prevention Specialists, Dr. Kirk Voelker (L) and
Whitney Page Browning (R) share cessation information at DeSoto Memorial Hospital

Dr. Kirk Voelker, a Tobacco Prevention Specialist in DeSoto County, said, “It is wonderful to see the DeSoto community support Great American Smoke Out. It is a great way for employers to get involved in promoting cessation services to employees.”

The idea for the Great American Smoke Out grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, Massachusetts, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. Then in 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day.

The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Great American Smoke Out, and the Society took the program nationwide in 1977. Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way society views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports smokers who want to quit.

For more information on the available cessation resources in DeSoto County, contact Whitney Page Browning at, or visit Tobacco Free Florida.