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American Cancer Society Marks 36th Great American Smokeout

The battle to kick America's smoking habit rages on. Though just 19% of U.S. adults are regular smokers—down from 42% in 1965, when folks were just starting to pay attention to its health risks—smoking rates are now declining at a crawling pace of 1% per year. In an attempt to speed up the process, antismoking campaigns have replaced flirtation with fear.


  • In 1968, Olympian Peggy Fleming was the first celebrity to appear in an antismoking ad. The next year, Congress would require that all cigarette packages bear the Surgeon General's warning.
  • Rather than telling onlookers, "Don't smoke," the friendly slogan aimed to lead by example.
  • The slightly risqué camera angle is meant to sex up the antismoking message.


  • In 1980, the Surgeon General published "The Health Consequences of Smoking for Women." That same year, this ad was designed to look like a page out of a fashion magazine.
  • Featuring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields, the ad was scrapped by the Department of Health and Human Services after she appeared in suggestive Calvin Klein ads. It was eventually adopted by the American Lung Association.


  • In 2009, the New York City Board of Health attempted to curb smoking by requiring the city's 12,000 cigarette retailers to place images of decaying teeth, damaged brains, and cancerous lungs near products.
  • The ads were quickly banned when a U.S. judge ruled that they violated vendors' rights to free speech.


  • Rather than focus on mortality, this 2011 campaign aims to show the long-term suffering smoking can cause, which, according to the New York City Health commissioner, motivates more smokers to quit than the risk of death.
  • Four million Americans suffer from emphysema as a result of smoking, and the habit can double a person's stroke risk.
Courtesy of AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY (Fleming), NEW YORK CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT (brain, woman); Poster reprinted with permission ©2011 American Lung Association (Shields)

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A version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.