Latest Topic Article
Nicotine is a drug found in all tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and dip. Nicotine can produce a calm feeling for short periods of time. But over time, the body needs more and more of this drug to feel good; as a result, smoking becomes a big part of a person’s life. People smoke when they are bored or upset, or out of habit—for example, while drinking coffee, driving a car, or hanging out with other smokers. Because smoking is so linked to other common activities, quitting can be very hard to do and may take many tries. But it is never too late! In fact, more than three million American smokers quit every year.
Smoking in the Military For a long time the military had a reputation for being an organization in which smoking is accepted and common. In the 1980s, more than half of military personnel on active duty were smokers. Even though Service Members are smoking a little bit less than they were in the 1980s, tobacco use is still pretty high among military personnel. This high rate of smoking is concerning for several reasons:
- Illnesses. Smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and lung disease take a huge toll on the physical readiness of Service Members.
- Problems at Work. Service Members who smoke are more likely to miss work, have poorer motor and perceptual skills, and less endurance.
- Financial. Each year, the Department of Defense spends an estimated $875 million on smoking-related health care costs and to cover losses due to smokers missing work and being less productive when they are at work.
- Service Members often say they started smoking to:
- Help relax and calm down.
- Help relieve stress.
- Relieve boredom.
- Fit in with buddies.
- “Look cool” or to “be cool.”
SMOKERS ARE AT A HIGHER RISK FOR:
- Lower quality of life
- Shortened life
- Lung disease
- Heart disease and stroke
- Sexual impotence and infertility
- Cataracts, skin wrinkling, and skin discoloration
- Increased use of other drugs and alcohol
- Complicated pregnancy
- Unhealthy families
Service Members who currently smoke heavily are more likely to experience the following problems:
- Stress: A higher number of Service Members who smoke heavily said they had “a lot” of stress at work in the past year compared to Service Members who had quit smoking or who had never smoked at all.
- Loss of Activities: A higher number of Service Members who smoke heavily had cut back on their usual activities compared to Service Members who had quit smoking or who had never smoked at all.
- Anxiety: Service Members who smoke heavily are about twice as likely to feel anxious compared to Service Members who had quit smoking and Service Members who had never smoked.
- Depression: Service Members who smoke heavily are about twice as likely to feel depressed compared to Service Members who had quit smoking and Service Members who had never smoked.
- Suicidal Thoughts: Service Members who smoke heavily are 2.5 times as likely to report suicidal thoughts in the past year compared to Service Members who had quit smoking and Service Members who had never smoked.
- Distress: Service Members who smoke heavily are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress in the past 30 days compared to Service Members who had quit smoking and Service Members who had never smoked.
- Combat Stress Reactions: Service Members who smoke heavily are four times as likely to meet the screening criteria for further Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when compared to Service Members who had quit smoking and Service Members who had never smoked.
Smoking Cessation Tips
Many ex-smokers say quitting was the hardest thing they ever did.
People who feel hooked are probably addicted to nicotine, and just thinking about quitting may make them anxious.
Quitting works best when a person is prepared.
START to quit by taking these five important steps:
S = Set a quit date.
T = Tell family, friends, and co-workers that you plan to quit.
A = Anticipate and plan for the challenges you’ll face while quitting.
R = Remove cigarettes and other tobacco prod-ucts from your home, car, and work.
T = Talk to a doctor about getting help to quit.
This material may be reproduced for professional use. © 2010 afterdeployment.dcoe.mil