FALLS CHURCH, Va.-The Department of Defense and TRICARE are encouraging military service members and their families to take part in the annual Great American Smokeout on Nov. 20.

Participation in the Smokeout is a component of the DoD-sponsored educational campaign, "Quit Tobacco -- Make Everyone Proud." Its mission is to assist active-duty service members in their efforts to quit tobacco -- for themselves and for the people who look up to them and care about them.

"The uniform is a symbol of strength and pride -- and that's what it takes to give up tobacco," said said Capt. David Arday, a doctor in the U.S. Public Health Service and chairman of the DoD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee.

"We urge military men and women to take up the challenge of the Smokeout. Use this day as a launching point to become tobacco free and begin a healthier lifestyle," Arday said, adding "There are resources available to help you."

Despite decades of work focused on reducing the use of tobacco by military populations, it remains firmly entrenched, statistics show, especially in the youngest segment of the military population, with new smokers and smokeless tobacco users starting every day.

In 2005, the prevalence of smoking among 18- to 25-year-olds on active duty was significantly higher than among their civilian counterparts (42.4 percent vs. 37.6 percent of men, 29.2 percent vs. 25.8 percent of women). Nearly 23 percent of those men started smoking after joining the military. The use of smokeless tobacco, or "spit tobacco," is also relatively high among military men in this age group, at roughly 25 percent.

DoD urges service members to take advantage of the Great American Smokeout to kick off their quit plan. "Join millions of members of the uniformed services, their families and the American public who quit smoking for one day," said Rear Adm. Steven Galson, the acting U.S. surgeon general.

During November, military personnel, their families and others who support them are invited to visit the campaign Web site at http://www.ucanquit2.org. This interactive information and support tool is specifically aimed at enlisted active-duty personnel who want to become tobacco free. Here they can access live instant-message help from a trained "cessation coach," privately and anonymously.

Users can also customize and download a quit plan; find research-based information; learn strategies for coping with triggers; play games with embedded tips and motivational messages; discuss issues on the message board; listen to podcasts; and locate local cessation programs.

Those who want to help their military friends and colleagues give up tobacco can send an e-card, become more informed about the challenges tobacco users face as they try to stop smoking and chewing, and download information to share.

The Great American Smokeout is the American Cancer Society's nationally recognized day when it advocates for people to put down their cigarettes, cigars, spit tobacco and other tobacco products.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16