November, 1970. That’s when the Great American Smokeout (GASO) began in Randolph, Massachusetts. One man,  Arthur P. Mullaney, asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent buying them to a scholarship fund.

Fast forward to 2017, to areas surrounding another Randolph –Randolph, New York in the enchanted mountains of Cattaraugus County, part of the Chautauqua-Allegany region of New York. On November 16, thousands of smokers put their cigarettes out.  But the event transcended quitting, as it has with each passing year and celebration.

Reality Check advocates in Olean celebrated GASO with the message “Don’t Light ’Em, Don’t Litter! The group hopes this encourages people to quit smoking, as well as builds support for more tobacco free public spaces in their community.

GASO events help fuel new laws and save lives

Beyond encouraging smokers to quit, each year the GASO event draws attention to prevention: to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking. 

Many state and local governments responded by banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, raising taxes on cigarettes, limiting cigarette promotions, discouraging teen smoking and taking further action to counter tobacco use. These efforts continue today.

Falconer’s Reality Check group promoted the message “The average age of a new smoker is 13 years old,” for GASO 2017. They hope their outreach prevents their fellow teens from using tobacco.

For GASO 2017, Reality Check advocates in Olean and Falconer, areas surrounding Randolph, New York, continued the tobacco-free fight. It’s a fight they suit up for every day.

To learn more about quitting smoking or getting involved in a Great American Smokeout in your community, contact our TF-CCA Youth Outreach coordinator at or 716.375-8010, extension 3901.