USS Michigan Leads the Way by Kicking the Habit Early

Story Number: NNS100728-15Release Date: 7/28/2010 5:24:00 PM
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By Electronics Technician 1st Class Gary Heppen, Commander Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

USS MICHIGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- In preparation for the upcoming Submarine Force smoking ban beginning Dec. 31, USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Blue) put the smoking lamp out almost six months early, July 27, at exactly 7:27 a.m.

The date and time were chosen in honor of the ship's hull number. July 27, is known as Tuebor Day on board the Mighty Michigan, currently on her second SSGN deployment to the Western Pacific. Tuebor is Latin for 'I will defend,' and appears on both the ship's crest and the state of Michigan seal.

The crew has been preparing for this major change to shipboard life. Of the 54 smokers on board, 18 personnel enrolled in a Tobacco Cessation Program (TCP) run by the ship's independent duty corpsman, Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert Ripps.

Ripps said that the program consisted of weekly meetings and nicotine replacement therapy and was successful for 17 of the smokers enrolled.

"The TCP helped me to get over the hump of needing a routine after-watch cigarette," said Sonar Technician 2nd Class Joseph Camerlin, a smoker of 12 years. "I feel really good about not smoking. I haven't had a cigarette in over a month."

The crew supports starting the smoking ban nearly six months before the rest of the submarine fleet.

"Like everything else, we are ahead of the curve. What better day than 727 day, personally, I think it was a great choice, especially since it is my 32nd birthday," said Camerlin.

Chief Machinist's Mate Timothy Flansaas, Machinery division leading chief petty officer, is one of the 36 smokers who did not enroll in the TCP. He successfully quit 'cold turkey' on his own, and hasn't smoked since the ban was first announced.

Flansaas said he had to wrap his mind around the fact that he really didn't want to smoke anymore. "I calculated how much money the next cigarette pack would cost me," said Flansaas.

Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Adam Vogel noticed that quitting smoking has increased his lung capacity and allowed him to run farther during his workout. To help encourage working out as an available stress relief instead of smoking, fitness options on board have improved, including an upgraded flat screen television under the Missile Compartment Logistics and Escape Trunk, so Sailors can work out using video-based fitness programs.

"As a former smoker for more than 10 years, I understand the challenges of quitting smoking. It is extremely hard to stop when you are at sea. We want our Sailors to be successful, so we decided to put the smoking lamp out during this mission cycle," said Command Master Chief Victor Smith. By putting the smoking lamp out at the now, toward the end of the mission cycle, the command's plan is for the Sailors to quit on board the boat, and then go into the homeport training period with a fresh start and plenty of support from their family and friends, said Smith.

"The day we extinguish the smoking lamp on board is a significant event in the lives of our Sailors. I cannot think of a more appropriate day to start a new and healthier life than 727 day," said Smith.

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