Americans hoping to live tobacco-free were determined to butt out of smoking today in the 12th annual Great American Smokeout as celebrities stressed the message: You're a fool if you think smoking is cool.
"I started smoking at 14 because I thought it was chic," said actress Celeste Holm, who with other stars at New York City's Lincoln Center on Wednesday urged participation in the smokeout."I didn't know it would kill you. Now we know better."
Anti-smokers around the country prepared for the big snuff-out, which attempts to coax puffers to say, "Enough!" - at least for a day.
In Nebraska, a sheriff said he wanted to "arrest smoking," newborn babies in Seattle and Council Bluffs, Iowa, were adorned with anti-smoking T-shirts and the operator of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline tried to convince people that it's no joke to smoke.
New to the smokeout this year is the "Back a Quitter" program. Backers act as buddies to the smokers for the day. By soliciting pledges from co-workers for every hour they go without a cigarette, the smokers also will raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
The American Cancer Society, which sponsors the event, said nearly 40 percent of the nation's 50 million smokers participated last year.
"Here's our answer to a pack-a-day - a pachyderm!" shouted ringmaster Paul Binder in New York as one of two cigarette-smashing elephants stomped a Styrofoam butt to promote the smokeout at New York's "Big Apple Circus."
In Nebraska, Sheriff Ron Tussing, who lost both of his parents to smoking-related illnesses, said he wanted to put the cuffs on smoking, while employees at Gibbon Packing Inc. were signing up as quitters.