Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Print this Article

The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 15 and what better time to plan how you will make an impact.

Tobacco kills 4 million people each year with 438,000 U.S. deaths attributed to tobacco use. The Navy Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, advocates a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Tobacco use and dependence is a serious problem in the military and DoD. The most recent DoD survey found that 37 percent of Marines and 31 percent of Sailors smoke cigarettes, and 22 percent of Marines and 10 percent of Sailors regularly use smokeless tobacco.

The initiation rates of service members beginning to use tobacco while on active duty are one in five.

But, there is good news. The majority of Sailors and Marines do not use tobacco, and most tobacco users report they want to quit.

"Tobacco has a serious impact upon readiness," said Capt. Michael Venere, Naval Health Clinic Patuxent River commanding officer. "Those who smoke are more likely to sustain musculoskeletal injuries and to perform poorly on fitness tests. Sailors and Marines who smoke have higher incidence of illnesses, and more lost work days and hospitalizations than nonsmokers. Smoking delays healing, prolongs injury recovery and hurts night vision."

Simply put, tobacco use reduces individual and command readiness, and decreases force health protection.

DoD spends more than $1.6 billion a year on tobacco-related medical care.

During the Great American Smokeout, all smokers are encouraged to put out their cigarettes and "Walk Away for One Day," and perhaps a lifetime.

Take the single most important health step of your life: Quit using tobacco.

Within 20 minutes after you smoke your last cigarette, your body begins a series of changes that continue for years:

- 20 minutes after quitting your heart rate drops.

- 12 hours after quitting the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood drops to normal.

- Two weeks to three months after quitting your heart attack risk begins to drop and your lungs begin to work better

- One to nine months after quitting your coughing and shortness of breath decreases.

- One year after quitting your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker's.

- Five years after quitting your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker's.

- 10 years after quitting your lung cancer death rate is half that of a smoker's and your risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.

- 15 years after quitting your risk of heart disease is like you never smoked.

For more information on how to quit, call theNaval Health Clinic at 342-4050, Maryland's Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW (784-8663) or the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345, or visit or