NHCL becomes smoke free for active duty staff

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune
Story by Danielle Bolton

Date: 12.31.2015
Posted: 12.31.2015 14:43
News ID: 185539

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – A new tobacco policy is underway at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune for its active duty service members. Effective Jan. 1, the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Instruction 5100.8 prohibits the use of all tobacco products regardless of form - electronic cigarette, smoking and smokeless – for all active duty personnel, in uniform or in relax standards, such as scrubs or physical training gear, while on the grounds of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, its branch clinics and satellite facilities.

This is one-more step for the Naval Hospital to align nationally with nonfederal and federal hospitals and medical centers that are 100-percent tobacco free. In 2009, North Carolina was the first all-voluntary state to boast 100 percent of its nonfederal hospitals had adopted the tobacco-free hospital campus policy, according to Dr. Adam Goldstein, professor of family medicine and director of the University of North Carolina Nicotine Dependence Program.

Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune is one of two major medical facilities in North Carolina. Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg became a tobacco free campus in 2013 with exception of union negotiated employees, according to James S. Askins, the head of Health Promotion and Wellness Department.

He adds that it is one-more step to ensuring patients’ health and well-fare is at the center of everything the hospital does.

“This new tobacco use policy is extremely important and is the first step in meeting the DON objectives of establishing a safe, healthy, unpolluted working environment for all DOD personnel; discourage tobacco use; educate personnel about the dangers of tobacco use, and provide guidance of how to quit tobacco,” said Askins.

Much of the new policy is not new. Secretary of the Navy Instruction 5100.13C, already dictated the need for tobacco free establishments.

“It is DON policy that smoke-free DON facilities be established to protect all DON civilian and military personnel, and members of the public visiting or using DON facilities from the health hazards caused by exposure to tobacco smoke,” according to the 2002 instruction.

Additionally, the new policy aligns with the 2012 Bureau of Medicine Instruction 6200.12 which mandates that, “Navy Medicine shall become tobacco-free.”

The new policy also iterates the 2009 challenge issued by 36th Surgeon General of the Navy; Vice Admiral Adam Robinson’s to ensure all staff are taking tobacco free initiative seriously. It was his desire to “eliminate any unnecessary risk or harmful exposure to our patients,” Robinson said in the 2009 Memorandum.

While most are aware of first-hand and second-hand effects of smoke, it is less known that there is a third-hand affect to tobacco use as well.

“Studies show that third-hand smoke clings to hair, skin, clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces, even long after smoking has stopped. Infants, children and nonsmoking adults may be at risk of tobacco-related health problems when they inhale, ingest or touch substances containing third-hand smoke,” said Dr. Lowell Dale, medical director of Mayo Clinic Tobacco Quitline and an associate professor of medicine at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., in an article on the Mayo Clinic Web site. “Third-hand smoke is a relatively new concept, and researchers are still studying its possible dangers.”

Dale explains, “the only way to protect nonsmokers from third-hand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment, whether that's your private home or vehicle, or in public places, such as hotels and restaurants.” This is in line with the DON’s desire to be tobacco free.

It is understood that individuals need help quitting. Tobacco and its main ingredient, nicotine, are highly addicting and have taken the lives of more than 20 million American smokers since 1964, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s report.

Because of the noted difficulties in quitting, the Health Promotion and Wellness Department is offering tobacco cessation classes, as well as quit aides such as the nicotine patch and gum, to all individuals regardless of whether they are affected by the policy.

In general smokers are sick and miss work more often than nonsmokers. This is due to the 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke that interfere with the immune system, Askins said. “This costs the DOD and American businesses, and American workers who smoke, billions of dollars every year.”

The new policy does not affect civilian employees, patients and visitors, who are still subject to Naval Hospital Instruction 5100.7m, change 1, which allows tobacco products to be used in authorized tobacco use areas. The old instruction does state that “smoking and the perception of smoking is banned … .”

Although civilian employees do not fall under the new policy, civilian employees, patients and visitors are encouraged and welcome to attend the classes and receive the quit aides, such as nicotine gum, patches and prescription medication.

Group Tobacco Cessation classes are currently held every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Wellness Department, Building 4, on the corner of McHugh Blvd. and Postal Lane. Group classes are held every Tuesday from 12-1 p.m. at the Ophthalmology Clinic. There are individual classes offered by appointment. For more information or to schedule an individual class, call the Health Promotion and Wellness Department at 910-451-3712.