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Promoting healthier lifestyles: Clinic moves towards tobacco-free campus

Army graphic

Army graphic

Published: January 19, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 19, 2016) -- In a move to demonstrate its commitment to promote healthier lifestyles, Lyster Army Health Clinic has begun the implementation process of moving toward becoming a tobacco-free campus.

Per Army Regulation 600-63, no later than May 8, all Army Medical Command entities will achieve full implementation of a tobacco-free campus. This regulation extends the tobacco-free zones from the current 50 feet to encompass the entire clinic campus.

The policy applies to all employees, patients and visitors at LAHC, and prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars, pipes, smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, personal vaporizers and electronic nicotine delivery systems – on the LAHC campus, including parking lots and privately owned vehicles.

This policy also includes the dental and veterinary clinics on post. For now, at all other Fort Rucker locations and facilities, smoking and use of nicotine products is allowed only in designated smoking areas that meet post policy.

Although electronic nicotine delivery devices may seem to be a safe alternative to cigarettes, these devices are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for various reasons, to include the fact that they contain significant variances in the amount of nicotine that is delivered.

“LAHC joins the hundreds of Navy, Air Force and Army hospitals and medical centers around the world which have already implemented tobacco-free campus policies as part of the Department of Defense’s broader strategy to support healthy lifestyles and behaviors,” said Maj. JoAnne Ward, chief of preventive medicine at LAHC.

In 2012, Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, former surgeon general and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, released her strategic plan for the Army Medical Department in the “Army Medicine Strategy 2020.”

One of Horoho’s goals was for Army medicine to be transformed from a health care system to a system for health. As a result, efforts have been made to make all Army Medical Department treatment facilities tobacco free.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness.

It can be a difficult endeavor, but each year, more than a million people successfully quit tobacco and there are many resources available to help in the process.

“The support piece is very crucial,” said Ward.

Employees are given the option to enroll into the LAHC Tobacco Cessation Program by contacting Army Public Health Nursing at 255-7930. They may also participate in their Federal Employee Health Benefit Tobacco Cessation Program. For more information, visit www.opm.gov/quitsmoking.

Another helpful resource for those trying to quit can be found at UCanQuit2.org – a Department of Defense-sponsored website providing information about tobacco cessation and live online help 24/7.

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