News: Reducing tobacco use at Langley AFB
Story by Senior Airman Aubrey White
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. - Across the U.S. Air Force, leaders have made strides in promoting the goal of a tobacco-free of force. The effort is continuing at Langley Air Force Base through smoke-free policies and tobacco cessation classes.
As of March 3, nearly 1,300 active duty U.S. Air Force airmen at Langley Air Force Base were documented as tobacco users, according to the Corporate Dental Application U.S. military Dental Data Status.
In an attempt to reduce these numbers, using smoke and smokeless products is prohibited in all Department of Defense-owned or occupied buildings, common areas, vehicles and aircraft, as stated in U.S. Air Force Instruction 40-102.
“Short-term effects of tobacco use include reduced physical fitness, impaired visual acuity and hearing loss,” said Monica Richardson, 633rd Medical Group Health and Wellness Center health promotion manager. “Long-term tobacco use is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, infections, delayed wound-healing, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and numerous cancers. All of these conditions negatively impact our service members' health, endurance, mission readiness and work productivity.”
Tobacco includes, but is not limited to, cigars, traditional and electronic cigarettes, stem and water pipes, hookahs and smokeless products.
Because the goal is a tobacco-free Air Force, leaders are decreasing supportive environments for tobacco use. There are Designated Tobacco Areas located throughout the base, which are placed 50 feet from any building entrance or exit. Butt cans are placed inside of the area to assist with proper disposal and fire prevention.
Reducing the number of DTAs ultimately assists in cessation efforts and minimizes exposure to secondhand smoke.
Most recently, the 633rd MDG transitioned their entire campus to a tobacco-free zone.
“It’s very reassuring to know the area surrounding the medical group is smoke-free because my pregnant wife can go to and from her appointments without being subject to second-hand smoke,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Anthony Smith, 633rd Security Forces Squadron pass and registration shift supervisor. “People visit the group to become healthier and this environment encourages that effort.”
An added contribution to lessening tobacco use in the Air Force is the Tobacco Cessation class held most Wednesdays at the Langley HAWC. Richardson said the Tobacco Cessation class is designed for people taking the first step toward a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle.
Contact your building custodian to find out the exact location and steps for proper disposal of tobacco products.
“Air Force leaders at all levels can encourage healthier lifestyle choices … by communicating to airmen how tobacco use degrades mission performance; by connecting airmen ready to quit with available tobacco cessation services including in-person, web-based and telephone quit line options; and perhaps most importantly, leading by example,” Richardson said. “Quitting tobacco use is never easy and always requires a good support system.”
For more information about tobacco use in the Air Force, reference AFI 40-102, or to register for a tobacco cessation class, call the Health and Wellness Center at 764-6321.