The Orange County unit of the American Cancer Society will use both a hard line and a soft touch in an attempt to get 50% of county smokers to give up cigarettes on Nov. 21, Great American Smokeout Day.
The defensive backfield of the Los Angeles Rams will star in a "Smokebusters" video, and about 800 Orange County elementary school children will launch balloons with personal messages attached, urging smokers to quit. "Imagine getting a message, 'Please don't smoke, Love Jeannie, age 5,' " said Smokeout spokeswoman Cathy Boire.
Last year, about 33% of county smokers quit for the day, and a third of that number quit for good, according to Frank Spinarski, chairman of the Orange County Smokeout Committee. Nationwide as many smokers quit for the day, but only 10% of that number had not smoked after six months, according to American Cancer Society figures, Spinarski said.
Best in the Nation
"We've been told we're the best" in the country by the American Cancer Society, Spinarski said. The annual Smokeout has been held nationwide since 1976; the ultimate goal is a smokeless society by the year 2000, spokespersons said.
"It's a fact that 85% of all smokers want to quit. If we can get them to quit for one day, there's a good chance we can get them to quit for good," Spinarski said. "The first day is the most difficult to quit smoking. It becomes a lot easier day after day," he said, adding that he is a reformed smoker.
Non-smokers may participate in the day by adopting a smoker, which is "very effective" in helping the smoker to quit, Spinarski said. "The smoker in the past has been chastised for smoking," and will appreciate a non-smoker's help getting through a smokeless day, he said.
Rams' in the 'Smokebusters'
Ram safeties Nolan Cromwell and Johnnie Johnson and cornerbacks Gary Green and Leroy Irvin, the official Orange County Smokebusters, will sing and dance in a video takeoff of the movie "Ghostbusters" that will be shown at half time of the Nov. 24 game against the Green Bay Packers. The players gave their support in memory of former Ram cornerback Kirk Collins, who died of throat cancer in February, 1984, at the age of 25, Spinarski said.
On Thursday,Anaheim Mayor Don Roth will cut down a 10-foot-tall cigarette, and approximately 200 schoolchildren from Sycamore Elementary in Orange will launch balloons with personal stop-smoking messages at the Joint Powers Training Station at 2400 Orangewood Ave. in Anaheim, Boire said.
Free Smokeout T-shirts, Adopt-a-Smoker adoption papers and Smokeout survival kits--which include stop-smoking tips, cinnamon toothpicks, worry stones, sugarless bubble gum, wrist snappers and Smokebusters pins--will be distributed today through Nov. 21 at the Orange County American Cancer Society office, 1503 S. Coast Drive, Suite 110. Smokeout kits will also be distributed at the Orange County Swap Meet at the Orange County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday and at Newport Center Fashion Island, in the Atrium Court, on Nov. 21, Boire said.