Rader is a tobacco-free campus
May 24, 2013
By Julia LeDoux
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Patients, staff members and visitors to Andrew Rader U.S. Army Health Clinic on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall can no longer light up, chew or use any other tobacco product on the facility's campus.
Rader Clinic Commander Col. Laura R. Trinkle said there has been a no smoking policy inside treatment facilities operated by the U.S. Army Medical Command for years, but there had been a smoking area someplace outside of each facility.
We now have a tobacco-free campus, which means the building and the grounds, which includes the parking lot, is tobacco-free, she said. This includes all tobacco products - cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, cigars and pipes.
"We no longer have a smoking area on our property," she added.
Trinkle said the facility is reinforcing the tobacco cessation programs that are available to both service members and its civilian staff to help them stop smoking. Those who are interested in starting a tobacco cessation program should speak to their primary care manager, she added.
"Tobacco use is one of the top three leading causes of preventable death in the United States," she said. "The number of diseases associated with tobacco use is extremely high."
Trinkle acknowledged that it can be difficult to stop using tobacco products, but that it's an admirable goal to have.
"That is exactly why we have cessation programs, so people don't have to go through that difficulty themselves, they have a support group while trying to quit, they can be monitored for any health concerns while they're going through this challenge," she said. "There are products that are available to assist in decreasing that addiction to nicotine through the patches and other methods."
According to the Center for Disease Control, tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually in the United States, or about 443,000 deaths per year. An estimated 49,000 of those are the result of secondhand smoke exposure.
"If you look at our healthcare system as a whole in the United States, the costs are rising phenomenally, and they will continue to rise," said Trinkle. "The key to bringing those costs down is healthy lifestyle, healthy behavior and changing the way we live and the choices we make."
Trinkle said the average person sees their doctor three times a year, with each appointment lasting approximately 20 minutes.
"We in the health care setting only see patients for about an hour out of the whole year," she continued. "Sixty minutes, and you think about how many minutes there are in an entire year. All of the decisions that are being made about your health are pretty much occurring in that time you're not sitting in the doctor's office."
Those decisions occur at home, at work and in the car, Trinkle said, and "we really want to promote that is where health has to start, and those decisions are the ones that are going to influence your health in the long run."
Stopping the use of tobacco products in all their forms is a large part of living a healthy lifestyle, she explained.
"That's what we're going for, a healthier lifestyle and that's something the Army has been going for for several years," explained Trinkle.
She noted that the Defense Department's tobacco use prevention strategic plan 1999, set the goal of reducing smoking rates by 15 percent for soldiers by 2001.
"I can't tell you right now where that goal is, but we still do have a lot of folks that use tobacco products and we want to set the example within the health care industry for a healthy lifestyle."
And, it's not just the Army that's going to the tobacco-free campus model.
"The Navy and Air Force are also going to tobacco free-campuses as well within medical facilities," she said.
Trinkle said that part of Surgeon General and Commanding General of U.S. Army Medical Command Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho's vision is to move Army medicine from a health care system to a system of health. "Part of that is promoting healthy lifestyles and healthy behaviors," she said. "Within the medical community we should be reinforcing healthy behaviors, and we should be setting an example." Trinkle said the policy sets a good example for patients as they enter the facility.
"I think the primary thing to remember is we're doing this because we care about your health. We care about your health not just as a patient, but we care about the health of our civilian staff members as well. The whole goal is to improve health," she underscored.