NEWS | Nov. 10, 2014

Jump Start!

By Staff Sgt Renae Pittman Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Quitting smoking is a popular New Year's resolution, but with January 1, still two months away, you can get a head start by participating in this year's American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout Nov. 20, 2014.

The day is an opportunity for current smokers to pledge not to smoke for a full day while making plans to quit. They are offered guidance on effective methods and techniques from both health professionals and former smokers which can help them kick the habit for good. The Great American Smokeout, which began in the 1970s, also serves as a platform to publicize the health hazards of using tobacco in an effort to reduce the number of smokers worldwide.

"Our goal at Joint Base Charleston is to reduce tobacco use by five percent," said Nikki Conley, 628th Medical Group Aerospace Medicine Squadron Health Promotion program manager. "Using tobacco drains nearly $2 billion of the Department of Defense's $53 billion health care budget each year."

Members of Health Promotion (formerly known as the Health and Wellness Center) will be handing out awareness flyers Nov. 19. In addition, there will be two pledge booths, one at the 628th MDG clinic and one at the JB Charleston Exchange.

"We want to help people take their first step to quit smoking, if only for one day so they can see it is possible," said Conley. "In conjunction with the annual Smokeout, we offer a variety of different resources with our Smoking Cessation Programs -- everything from counseling to medications."

Today, there are many popular alternatives individuals use to quit smoking including prescription medications, patches and gums.

"If you are thinking about quitting tobacco with the assistance of e-cigarettes, remember, e-cigarettes have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, nor is there sufficient data to determine what the long term side effects might be," said Gaye Adams, 628th MDG dental hygienist and chief of preventative dentistry.

Airmen and Air Force civilians also need to be aware of Air Force Instruction 40-102, Tobacco Use, which establishes the tobacco policy in the Air Force and explicitly includes e-cigarettes under the definition of tobacco which subjects the product to all restrictions implemented for cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco. The Air Force was the first service to establish an e-cigarette policy, however the DOD has adopted the same policies in recent years.

"Tobacco use is really a mission-readiness issue," said Lt. Col. John Oh, Air Force Medical Services Agencies chief of health promotion. "It's associated with decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and decreased endurance. Not only is tobacco use the number one cause of premature deaths in Americans today, with more than 440,000 killed last year alone, it is also the number one preventable cause of health care cost."

For additional information on giving up tobacco, visit ww.ucanquit2.org or call Nikki Conley at the Air Base at 963-4087, or Claudia Dion at the Weapons Station at 794-6916.