Press Release

November 17, 2011


State Health Department Wants Illinois Smokers to
“Call it Quits!” 

November 17 is the 36th Annual Great American Smokeout  

CHICAGO—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today urged Illinois smokers to “Call it Quits” by participating in the Great American Smokeout and making a plan to quit smoking, or to quit smoking altogether today.

This year marks the American Cancer Society’s 36th annual Great American Smokeout, observed every third Thursday in November each year to encourage smokers to quit, and offer healthy lifestyle tips. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, although more than 46 million Americans still smoke. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.

In Illinois, 21 percent of adults over 18 – more than 2 million residents – are smokers, and 10 percent of youths between ages 12-17, smoke. Approximately 16,000 Illinoisans die of smoking-related diseases, and smoking costs the state about $3 billion in direct medical expenditures annually.

“Almost 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and more than half have tried to quit,” said Acting Director Dr. Craig Conover. “I encourage smokers who want to quit to try again, and to use the Great American Smokeout and all the resources available to make a plan for quitting that will give them the greatest chance for success. The immediate health benefits of quitting are substantive.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the immediate and long-term health benefits of quitting smoking include:

  • Within 20 minutes: Heart rate and blood pressure—abnormally high while smoking—drop.
  • Within 12 hours: Carbon monoxide levels in the blood begin to drop.
  • Two weeks to three months: Circulation improves; lung function increases.
  • One to nine months: Coughing and shortness of breath decreases.
  • One year: Excess risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.

Other immediate benefits of quitting smoking include an improved sense of taste and smell.

Among the resources in Illinois to help smokers “Call it Quits”, IDPH sponsors the Illinois Tobacco Quitline (1-866-QUIT-YES), a free helpline where trained staffers known as “Quit Coaches” are available to callers 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

“Quit Coaches” create free, personalized quit plans and provide educational materials and referrals to local resources. The Illinois Tobacco Quitline also offers a full-time Spanish-speaking interpreter, and the capability to speak to clients in more than 150 languages through an interpretation service. A TTY telecommunication device allows communication with hearing-impaired clients.

For more information, please visit or the Illinois Department of Public Health website at

idph online home
idph online home

Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
Questions or Comments