MINNEAPOLIS -- Lynn R. Smith, a newspaper publisher and force behind the Great American Smokeout, died Thursday at a nursing home where he had been in long-term care since suffering a stroke six years ago, his son Donald Smith said. Mr. Smith was 84.
He was the publisher of the Monticello Times when he founded Don't Smoke Days in Monticello in central Minnesota in 1974. That led to the Great American Smokeout, the widely observed November day that has raised awareness of the health hazards of smoking.
''He found a mission in his columns and on the Times editorial pages that he could change people's habits and change their lives, so [he] became an advocate to quit smoking," said Donald Smith, also a former publisher of the paper.
Mr. Smith spearheaded what he called D-Day (Don't Smoke Day) on Jan. 6, 1974. Three-hundred people pledged to stop smoking or using tobacco, and Mr. Smith put their names on the front page of his newspaper. Three months later, 9 percent of those people reported that they had quit smoking, Donald Smith said.
That fall, the Minnesota Lung Association and the American Cancer Society worked with Mr. Smith to promote a Minnesota Don't Smoke Day, his son recalled. Two years later, the cancer society took the concept nationwide, and the Great American Smokeout is held each year on the third Thursday of November.
The Monticello Times was Mr. Smith's fourth community newspaper. He bought the weekly in 1962 after selling the Carver County News, of Watertown, and the Lester Prairie News.