Peter Jennings, who spent his career informing the public before succumbing to lung cancer on Sunday, has now prompted scores of well-wishers to vow to change their lives in his honor by giving up their smoking habits.
The death of the "World News Tonight" anchor at age 67, along with his candid admissions about his own smoking habit, has drawn renewed attention to the dangers of lung cancer, which claims more than 168,000 American lives each year.
"Do you think it would have been as hard for Peter to give up smoking if someone would have told him 36 years ago that his life was already half over?" asked Heather from Florida in an online posting on ABCNEWS.com's message board.
"So I will soldier on today on this quest to stop smoking … Thanks for giving me the wisdom to realize this now Peter."
Another message board user wrote: "I am in the process of quitting smoking and hearing this news was a real eye-opener for me. I am now trying to get my husband to quit as well."
It's a theme that has caught on with well-wishers since Jennings' death. By Tuesday morning, the ABCNews.com message board was peppered with postings and e-mails from smokers promising to quit the habit as well as supporters of the anti-smoking cause.
"Mr. Jennings' death is a reminder to me that we must continue to be vigilant and we will persevere in our effort to help the many of Americans living with lung disease and those who still smoke cigarettes," John Kirkwood, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, wrote on Monday.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States are related to tobacco use. A stunning 87 percent of lung cancer deaths can be attributed to tobacco use, according to statistics compiled by the Cancer Society.
The numbers are striking, but for those who continue to smoke statistics may not be enough of a deterrent. For some, the death of the respected news anchor may change that.
"At 9:00 I smoked my last cigarette out of the pack I had, and of course knew I needed to run out and get more," wrote Jodi in Kansas City. "Shortly after that is when I saw the news about Mr. Jennings. I never went out and got more cigarettes and won't today either. If Mr. Jennings wanted to impact people and make a difference about smoking and people stopping, he did with me yesterday."
It is impossible to gauge the overall impact Jennings' death will have on smokers, but his willingness to share his experience and explain it to viewers may have personalized some smokers' fears.
Jennings began smoking at age 13. He smoked for most of his adult life but quit in the 1980s before slipping up and smoking in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
In his reporting, Jennings was devoted to educating Americans about the dangers of tobacco use, including producing a one-hour special on the subject last fall.
Jennings publicly explained his smoking history to viewers when he announced his diagnosis on the April 5 edition of "World News Tonight." That announcement and his subsequent death may have served as a wake-up call for viewers that tobacco use has consequences.