PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) in Portsmouth, Va., is partnering with Navy Liberty Centers and the Marine Corps Semper Fit Program as part of Navy-wide efforts to promote the Great American Smokeout (GASO) Nov. 18.
The GASO is an American Cancer Society initiative held across the United States to encourage smokers to quite smoking.
Nearly 31 percent of Sailors and 37 percent of Marines smoke cigarettes, according to a 2008 Department of Defense survey of health related behaviors.
"There are lots of reasons for Sailors and Marines to quit smoking and using tobacco," said Dr. Mark Long, NMCPHC public health educator. "In addition to the myriad of reasons that numerous anti-smoking organizations have been touting for years, smoking can also adversely impact operational and individual readiness."
According to Long, more individuals quit smoking Nov. 18, the GASO, than any other day of the year.
Navy Medicine has long-recognized that tobacco harms the health and well-being of Sailors, Marines and their families.
"More importantly, tobacco use is being acknowledged by Navy and Marine Corps leadership as a readiness issue with our deployed forces," said Capt. Larry Williams, NMCPHC health promotion and analysis head.
Williams is the chair of the Tobacco Cessation Action Team (TCAT), a Navy Medicine group that reviews, develops and provides resources, guidance and policies aimed to help decrease tobacco use in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Long, also a member of TCAT, has been the driving force behind the Navy GASO initiatives for many years.
"It is also important for the non-tobacco users to support their friends and loved ones who decide to quit on the 18th," said Williams. "Quitting is easier with friends to support you."
"More and more Navy and Marine Corps commands are actively promoting and participating in the GASO and encouraging their Sailors and Marines to stop," said Long. "It is a great opportunity to quit using tobacco."
Numerous resources are available to tobacco users interested in quitting tobacco, including military treatment facilities and clinics that offer tobacco cessation programs and support groups. Additionally, the NMCPHC website has a wide variety of tools, tips and resources for tobacco users, as well as program managers.
For more information on the GASO and other Navy public health programs, visit the NMCPHC's website at http://www.nmcphc.med.navy.mil/Healthy_Living/.
For additional information, also visit the Department of Defense's "Quit Tobacco, Make Me Proud" Web-based program at www.ucanquit2.org.
Tricare also offers a free helpline to assist with cessation. Call the following numbers for information:
North Region: (866) 459-8766
South Region: (877) 414-9949
East Region: (866) 244-6870
For more news from Navy Medicine Support Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.