Smoking To Be Extinguished On Submarines

Story Number: NNS100408-08Release Date: 4/8/2010 12:34:00 PM
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From Commander, Submarine Forces Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) has effected a policy April 8 banning smoking below decks aboard all U.S. Navy submarines.

The smoking ban, announced via naval message, will become effective no later than Dec. 31, 2010.

The impetus behind the change of policy is the health risks to non-smokers, specifically exposure to secondhand smoke.

"Our Sailors are our most important asset to accomplishing our missions. Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine. The only way to eliminate risk to our non-smoking Sailors is to stop smoking aboard our submarines," said Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, COMSUBFOR.

According to a 2006 Surgeon General's report on involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing heart and lung disease.

Subsequent to the 2006 Surgeon General report, the Submarine Force chartered the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory to conduct a study on U.S. submarines. The study indicated that non-smoking Sailors were exposed to measurable levels of Environment Tobacco Smoke (ETS), also called secondhand smoke. The year-long study was conducted in 2009 on nine different submarines, including at least one from each class of submarines in the force.

In conjunction with the policy change, cessation assistance to Sailors is being offered. The program will incorporate education techniques and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum, to assist in kicking the smoking habit. In keeping with current submarine policy, drugs such as Zyban and Chantix are not authorized.

"To help smokers minimize the effects of quitting, nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, will be readily available along with an extensive cessation training and support program on every boat. What we want to discourage is smokers turning to alternative methods of tobacco use such a chewing tobacco," said Capt. Mark Michaud, Submarine Force Atlantic surgeon.

"While submarine duty is a dynamic and demanding job, the Submarine Force is dedicated to mitigating unnecessary risks to our Sailors. Exposure to a harmful substance that is avoidable, such as secondhand smoke, is unfair to those who choose not to smoke," said Donnelly.

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5/6/2010 7:00:00 AM
I hope the same policy applies to the surface and air side of the house. If not it should. I am a none smoker who was raised in a smoking environment. Did not like it then and I do not have to put up with it now. I know longer serve aboard ship and my parents are both dead from lung cancer. To help the sailor get through the none smoking policy maybe we could go back to a rum ration a day. It does not have a second hand effect and it helps circulation.

4/27/2010 8:22:00 PM
I agree with the man who said "second hand smoke is a non issue"...scrubbers take tare of that...I earned my "Dolphins" long before the ladies started taking care of the UNITED STATES SUBMARINE FORCE...the pussies who make policy have NEVER had to do what we did...if you are worried about dieing from second hand smoke, you are retarded. You're brothers are your brothers when the hatch is shut!!!

4/21/2010 1:22:00 PM
I served 20 years in the submarine service and smoked my entire career. I quit in 1991 AND THINK THIS IS THE GREATEST CHANGE THAT HAS BEEN PROMOTED. SERVICE 1955 TO 1975. DONALD H. HULSE EMC (SS) USN RET

4/18/2010 10:12:00 AM
It would be very interesting to find out the percentage of smokers vice nonsmokers onboard the boats now. When I was in, the percentage was very much in favor of the smoker. With all the stuff the guys have to put up with now, the last thing they need is someone telling them oh no, you can't smoke now.

4/17/2010 3:43:00 PM
While the intentions are good, I think this is only going to lead to sneaking smokes in unauthorized spaces. I remember on the USS Carl Vinson the XO tried to shut down 2 of the 3 smoking sponses. People were smoking in any area they could sneak into. The sponses ended up being reopened. Let's face it; no matter how avaialbe and free smoking cessation tools are, people are still going to smoke and chew. The Navy may as well invest in those "Electronic cigarrettes"

4/15/2010 9:03:00 PM
This is not how the Navy is supposed to treat adults. No one is on a submarine without desire, intelligence and effort. Patrols are boring and stressful at the same time. The machinery on today's submarine makes 2nd-hand smoke a non-issue. Besides, the WHO of the UN had said 2nd hand was not a concern until this PC world we live in made them say different (am I inferring science can be managed and coerced by politics? I am!). Let the sailors decide for themselves. I'm a qualified sub vet.

4/13/2010 12:54:00 PM
This is a good move, however coinciding with women onboard should have nothing to do with it. The idea of providing the patch, nicotine gum etc. to help quit, not going to work. The sailors will just sneak a smoke somewhere. I don't think non-smokers realize that a smoker is the worse addict. Another option, that US Navy may not have considered, is the use of personal vaporizers (commonly called E-Cigarrettes). There is no smoke. User only ingests nicotine, Propylene Glycol, and flavoring.

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