Tobacco Cessation and Tobacco-Free Living

Monday November 18, 2013

What is it?

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease and degrades the health and readiness of Soldiers and the Army family.

Inhaling or ingesting tobacco releases harmful chemicals into the lungs and blood stream, sending toxins to every organ in the body. Smoking and tobacco use causes cancer, heart disease, strokes, emphysema, bronchitis, airway obstructions and other chronic diseases.

Approximately 444,000 Americans die annually from smoking-related diseases and about 49,000 are deaths related to second hand smoke. Quitting tobacco improves your quality of life and reduces risk for developing tobacco-related diseases or premature death due to tobacco use.

Why is this important to the Army?

The 2011 Department of Defense Survey of Health-Related Behaviors (released Feb 2013) reports that approximately 50 percent of all service members use nicotine and 24 percent of those surveyed reported smoking cigarettes (compared to their civilian counterparts at 20.6 percent).

Tobacco cessation and tobacco-free living programs support the Army Surgeon General's Performance Triad initiative and Department of Defense (DOD) goal for tobacco-free installations by year 2020. The Army's goal is to transform itself from a culture that tolerates smoking and tobacco use to an Army that supports disease prevention, healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices in support of the Healthy People 2020 prevention strategy for a healthier nation.

What has the Army done?

A DOD Healthy Base Initiative pilot program is currently underway at 14 military installations as part of the Operation Live Well program to decrease tobacco use and create tobacco-free environments. The pilot also explores ways to improve nutritional choices, reduce obesity and increase physical activity for service members and military retirees, family members and DOD civilians. Army installations at Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Mead, MD., and Camp Dodge, Iowa Air National Guard are participating in the year-long pilot program.

What efforts does the Army have planned for the future?

The DOD Quit Tobacco Make Everyone Proud program offers the Army family 24-7 access to interactive tobacco cessation tools, personalized quit plans, live chat support and other resources to quit tobacco. The Army Public Health Command is developing a Tobacco Free Living Implementation toolkit with recommendations to support a tobacco-free workforce and environment. The Army also supports the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21, 2013, and encourages the Army family to use this day to quit tobacco use, or help someone else quit by raising awareness about Army and DOD tobacco cessation programs to live tobacco-free.

Resources:

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- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, during his recent visit to Natick Soldier Systems Center, Mass.

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