FT. WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Dec. 1, Medical Department Activity -- Alaska will join an ever growing list of medical campuses throughout the Army, Department of Defense and private sector who are listed as tobacco-free.

Bassett Army Community Hospital and all outlying medical-related facilities on Ft. Wainwright, to include Preventive Medicine, Behavioral Health, Dental Activity -- Alaska (DENTAC)/Army Substance Abuse Program, Kamish Army Medical Home, Veterinary Clinic and the Medical Warehouse, will all become tobacco-free areas in support of healthy lifestyles and healthy behaviors.

"We are focused, as a health care facility, on promoting the health and wellness of others," said Maj. Kendra Jackson, chief of Army public health nursing for MEDDAC-AK. "It is important for us to take that into consideration, and not allowing tobacco use on our campuses is a way to prove that."

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure.

With those types of numbers reported from the American Lung Association, there is no doubt regarding the addictive qualities of tobacco and MEDDAC-AK is committed to helping staff members during the transition and implementation of the new policy.

"We completely understand that quitting tobacco is a challenge and we are here to support all MEDDAC-AK staff and beneficiaries if they are ready to quit," said Jackson.

Once tobacco uses have decided to quit MEDDAC-AK is standing by to offer support to not just Soldiers and beneficiaries, but also non-beneficiary staff members.

"In support of our staff, they will be offered tobacco use cessation (TUC) services for the first year of policy implementation giving access to counseling, education and nicotine replacement medication," said Jackson. "Beneficiaries can also inquire about TUC services through their primary care manager."

When the tobacco free campus policy goes into effect Dec. 1, all smoking shelters at MEDDAC-AK facilities will be boarded up and signs will direct tobacco users to outside of the tobacco free boundaries. In the spring the shelters will be removed completely.

MEDDAC-AK leadership believes the move will be a great step towards a healthier community.
"MEDDAC-AK is committed to providing a healthy working and patient care environment for our community," said Jackson.

For more information on TUC services through preventive medicine, call 361-5182. Additionally UCanQuit2.org is a DoD sponsored website providing information about tobacco cessation and live online help 24 hours a day, seven days a week.