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MHAFB strives to be tobacco free

Posted 8/14/2012   Updated 8/14/2012 Email story   Print story


by Mark Tschampl
366th Medical Group

8/14/2012 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- On March 26, the new Air Force Instruction governing tobacco use in the Air Force, 40-102, was published. This AFI takes a significantly stronger stand on tobacco use and is the first step in working towards and promoting a tobacco-free Air Force.

The reason for this stronger stand on tobacco is the overwhelming evidence that tobacco use is detrimental to the Air Force mission and community. Here are some of the facts: Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in America. Second-hand smoke exposure alone causes 50,000 deaths annually. Tobacco use costs the Department of Defense $1.6 billion in medical costs and lost time at work annually. It also affects military readiness by reducing night vision and the physical fitness of its users. Ultimately, tobacco use leads to heart attacks, stroke, various cancers, emphysema, pregnancy complications and many others health issues.

In order to reduce the negative effects of tobacco, the Air Force is encouraging its members to reduce the use of tobacco through some big changes in AFI 40-102. First, the Military Treatment Facility (hospital) is going to be a tobacco free zone by November 2012. This means no tobacco use will be allowed within 200 feet of the hospital or the parking lots and structures surrounding it. Secondly, the number of designated tobacco area's on base will be reduced and must be a minimum of 50 feet from building entry/egress, air intakes, sidewalks and parking lots. Third, tobacco use will be prohibited at all lodging and recreation facilities, to include the golf course and athletic complexes, except within approved DTA's. Finally, tobacco use by military members during Professional Military Education will be prohibited while in uniform. These changes will take effect no later than September 2013.

The obvious end-goal of these policy changes on tobacco use within in the Air Force is to encourage users to quit tobacco all together. The tobacco cessation program here is a two-hour class held monthly on the second and fourth Wednesday, and is one of the best in the Air Force. In fact it has the highest quit rate in ACC and the second highest in the Air Force! An online class is available for those unable to attend the traditional classroom course. All three class options provide free tobacco cessation medications to active-duty members, retirees and dependents.

Contact the Health and Wellness Center at 828-2175 for more information.

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