Ready to quit? Great American Smokeout Thursday in Minnesota

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The American Cancer Society is challenging smokers around the country Thursday to take the first step toward kicking the habit for good with The Great American Smokeout, SouthernMinn.com reports.

The ACS annually recognizes the third Thursday of November to promote the event, now in its 38th year.

The Mayo Clinic says more people quit on this day annually than any other day of the year, the Austin Daily Herald reports.

The ACS says The Great American Smokeout grew out of a couple smaller statewide efforts, including Don't Smoke Day – also known as D-Day – which was created by Minnesota newspaper publisher Lynn Smith.

Smith, who was the publisher and editor of the Monticello Times, spearheaded Minnesota's first D-Day in 1974. He died in 2005 at age 84.

ECM Newspapers reporter Howard Lestrund recalled Smith and his legacy in 2009.

"I interviewed him on several occasions and his message was always one of wanting to save lives by helping others quit smoking," Lestrund wrote. "His son, Donald Smith, continued to carry the fight against smoking by using the newspaper as a tool to get the message across."

The ACS says smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths overall. In addition, the ACS says, 8.6 million people in the U.S. live with serious illnesses caused by smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control says tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Currently, the CDC says tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths worldwide a year. The organization predicts that number will rise to 8 million annually by 2030.

Cigarette sales in Minnesota have dropped dramatically since the state imposed a tobacco tax rate hike this past summer.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue says after the new tax rate took effect July 1, cigarette sales in the state fell 35 percent in the month compared to July 2012.

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