News: Quitting cigarettes with Great American Smokeout
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Naval Health Clinic Hawaii and the Health Promotion Office aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii shared resources and promotional materials with Marines and sailors in light of the nationwide Great American Smokeout, Nov. 21, 2013.
Along with stress balls, pamphlets and a display, attendees could peer into a jar containing fake tar. According to Neil Morgan, the acting Health Promotions coordinator, the jar of fake tar represents “the approximate amount of tar that passes through a smoker’s lungs each year from smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 440,000 Americans die a year as a result of cigarette smoking, to include secondhand smoke.
The Great American Smokeout, spearheaded by the American Cancer Society, is annually observed every third Thursday of November to encourage people to quit smoking.
The history of the Smokeout goes back more than 30 years, according to the American Cancer Society’s website. In 1970, the first Smokeout event happened at Randolph High School in Randolph, Mass. Arthur P. Mullaney encouraged people to raise funds for high school scholarship by not smoking for a single day and donating their cigarette money.
“It’s the number one preventable cause of death,” said Seaman Richard Houx, a hospital corpsman at Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, who, with Morgan handed out resources at Anderson Hall. “It’s become more common knowledge in the United States that smoking is harmful … (Americans) realize it’s costing us more in health care costs.”
The CDC also reports an estimated $96 million is spent annually in the U.S. on health care associated with smoking.
However, the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported 58.3 million smokers, while the CDC reported in 2011, there were an estimated 43.8 million smokers, a 14.5 million decrease.
To help combat the habit, active-duty service members, retirees and their dependents can register for free tobacco cessation classes at MCB Hawaii. This year, Morgan reported more than 100 people attending these classes. The four-session tobacco cessation classes begin the first Tuesday each month at 10 a.m. in the upstairs classroom at Naval Health Clinic Hawaii’s Kaneohe Branch. Those who cannot attend the regular classes can request alternative assistance.
Houx is a former smoker. He said he was able to quit by forming a new habit of frequenting the gym and receiving support from his family. He said he also noticed that it was easier to stop smoking when he was around people who were conscious of their health. Whether refraining from smoking in their car or home out of respect and courtesy for nonsmoking friends, they helped him quit.
The Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute recommends asking for support from family as one aid in quitting, at their website, http://smokefree.gov. According to the website, family members can be helpful in several ways, such as holding the smoker accountable to their commitment or spending quality time with the person engaged in healthy alternatives.
Other tips include:
• Set a date to quit. “Avoid choosing a day where you know you will be busy, stressed, or tempted to smoke,” the website reads.
• Be ready for change. According to the website, when people try to quit smoking, they may have to endure various obstacles from mood swings due to withdrawal to cravings. The key is to be prepared for them.
• Out of sight, out of smell, out of mind. The person is encouraged to remove all cigarettes, lighters and even lingering tobacco smells from their environment to encourage quitting.
• Consult a doctor. Doctors can offer advice on anti-smoking medications.
The Department of Defense also supports service members through the “Quit Tobacco — Make Everyone Proud” campaign, established in 2007. The campaign website, http://www.ucanquit2.org, provides resources and information about quitting tobacco, speak with a coach, learn about various medications that support quitting and even a calculator that gives an idea how much money a person can save if they stop buying tobacco products.
The DoD has also offered service members, DoD civilians and military family members an opportunity to create their own anti-tobacco awareness video in a contest called “Fight the Enemy,” that ended last month. Entries are currently still in the judging process.
Houx recommends that people do research if they are considering smoking.
“The best thing to do is start research on (smoking),” Houx said. “Education is key.”
For more resources and information about quitting smoking, visit http://www.ucanquit2.org or http://smokefree.gov. Service members and Department of Defense employees can call 1-800-QUITNOW to acquire patches. For more information about tobacco cessation classes, call the Health Promotion Office at 254-7636.