(Dover, NH) - Today is Great American Smokeout Day, when the American Cancer Society urges us to kick the habit.


I was a smoker for for about 15 years. I started in high school, and by the time I quit, I was up to over 2 packs a day.  In November of 1982, the average price for a pack of cigarette had jumped to just under 82 cents. Today in New Hampshire, the average price is $6.79 a pack.

There's an old joke: "Quitting is easy, I've done it a hundred times."

I had tried all the suggested ways to quit, event went through hypnosis, but kept going back to my old ways.  But in 1982, Somersworth Mayor George Bald was serving as New Hampshire Chairman of the Great American Smokeout, and publicly challenged me to quit. I accepted the challenge.

The story was carried in the local newspapers, got picked up by the national wire services, and the pressure to quit mounted.

I was getting phone calls from news outlets across the country and doing interviews with morning radio hosts for the next two weeks, asking how I was doing. I was determined to keep going, and 35 years later, I thank George Bald every day for that challenge.

As a pay off, he marched in the Dover Christmas parade in 1982, wearing red flannel underwear and a top hat, and carried a sign reading, "Congratulations Don".

New Hampshire health officials say 18 per-cent of the adults in the state smoke cigarettes.  If you would like help kicking the habit, call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit QuitNowNH.org.