My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 18, 2021

Quit smoking beginning with the “Great American Smokeout”

By Tim Merrell, the Coast Guard’s Health Promotion Program Manager 

The American Cancer Society will celebrate the Great American Smokeout (GASO) 

Nov. 18, 2021, which encourages smokers to make a plan to stop smoking for one day in the hope of quitting tobacco products for life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. Despite the overwhelming evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco, nearly 34 million U.S. adults still smoke cigarettes.  

Some people are under the misconception that vaping, or the use of e-cigarettes, is a safe alternative to cigarettes. However, vaping causes complications and further research is being conducted to determine the long-term effects on our health. To date, research does show that e-cigarettes are not safe for youth, young adults, and pregnant women. This is one of the reasons why this year it is especially critical to quit smoking or any form of tobacco usage, because it is being linked to many harmful conditions, including some that can compromise your immune system.  

To help our members quit this addiction there is a list of resources on the Coast Guard Office of Work-Life Programs (CG-111) Tobacco Cessation webpage, which include some of the following: 

  • Contact the military treatment facility nearest you to inquire about what programs or services they offer for nicotine addiction. Many people find success when they join a peer-to-peer Nicotine Cessation support group. Visit this webpage to locate a center best for you.   
  • CG SUPRT, within the Employee Assistance Program, offers cessation resources like confidential and professional counseling, education and referral services to you and your family members. You can call 855-247-8778 or visit for resources.  
  • The Department of Defense offers free resources and tool called YouCanQuit2, which helps service members address tobacco use for GASO or any time during the year. YouCanQuit2 works to help members quit all forms of tobacco and provides information, motivation, and support to stay or become tobacco free. There is also information on the harms of vaping, e-cigarettes, and there is guidance on how to draft a YouCanQuit2 Quit Plan to support your journey, as well as, other programs and tools
  • TRICARE covers nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and related medications to support your efforts to quit tobacco use. These medications are available at military pharmacies and through the TRICARE Pharmacy Home Delivery (where available), but not through TRICARE retail outlet locations (civilian pharmacies). To find out more information or to learn more about cessation medications, contact Tobacco Cessation TRICARE.  

Ending tobacco and nicotine addiction is not easy, but anyone who has witnessed or experienced the effects of a tobacco-related disease will most likely recommend quitting or, better yet, not starting. The Office of Work-Life wants to support you as you conquer this challenge and encourages all current nicotine product users (that includes e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco) to strongly consider giving up this destructive habit.  

Taking a break from smoking during the Great American Smokeout day, coupled with the suggested resources provided, will be a first step toward successfully quitting your smoking habit. For questions concerning Coast Guard tobacco policies, contact Tim Merrell, the Coast Guard’s Health Promotion Program manager, at (202) 475-5146.