A variety of events were planned around the country for the American Cancer Society's 14th annual celebrity-studded Great American Smokeout to encourage smokers to abstain for at least 24 hours.

The smokeout officially began at midnight.On Wednesday in New York, Rapper L.L. Cool J playfully punched out a mock 6-foot pack of cigarettes, and wrestler Tito Santana helped strangle a similar pack in a "tug of war."

Even New York Mayor David Dinkins, a reformed heavy smoker, got into the act, describing how he quit 28 years ago after reading about a link between butts and bronchitis.

"I have not, I am pleased to report, smoked since," he bragged.

Cancer Society spokesman David Lehman said a Gallup organization survey showed 17.9 million smokers participated last year, and about 5.2 million stayed off the entire day.

Actress Carol Channing said she was smoking three packs a day when she quit eight years ago.

"I couldn't get in the bathtub without a cigarette and an ashtray," she said.