According to the American Cancer Society, nearly “34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world.” For this reason, each year on November 17, the Coast Guard champions the Great American Smokeout (GASO) as an opportunity to encourage our workforce to become more aware of the risks associated with smoking, and to take advantage of available resources to quit.
Tim Merrell, the Coast Guard’s Health Promotion Program manager paints a picture of the uncompromising seduction of smoking. “The use of tobacco products have no redeeming qualities and have copious amounts of unhealthy consequences. Using tobacco products will increase your probability to have a stroke, heart attack, or to be diagnosed with cancer. It will make all of your clothes, car, and house smell like smoke, stain your teeth, wrinkle your skin, and decrease your blood circulation. The Coast Guard has several options to help members quit this addiction, I wish more people would take advantage of this opportunity.”
The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to make a plan to stop smoking for one day in the hope of quitting tobacco products for life. To help our members quit the addiction there is a list of resources on the CG-111 Tobacco Cessation web page.
One of the more popular resources listed is the YouCanQuit2 site, a Department of Defense educational campaign aligned with the Defense Health Agency (DHA). It offers a lot of great resources such as: 24/7 live chats with counselors; articles on vaping; and tools to help you avoid the temptation to go back to tobacco once you have quit.
As additional support, Merrell invited a staff member from YouCanQuit2 to speak to the Coast Guard workforce at a Wellness Wednesday event earlier this month believing that the information she conveyed would be invaluable.
YouCanQuit2 of DHA’s Total Force Fitness, offers many interactive tools and resources to support you or a loved one on their journey to becoming tobacco free. This includes not only the 24/7 live chat but an interactive quit plan, the savings calculator, and the YouCanQuit2 Support Locator.
“It is never too late to quit smoking and we are here to help,” says Capt. Sally Hu, United States Public Health Service, Total Force Fitness Acting director, DHA. The recording of the Wellness Wednesday presentation is available at CG-11 - Wellness Wednesday (uscg.mil) and may be helpful as you begin your own smoke-free journey.
Merrell reminds us that “Overcoming nicotine addiction is not easy, but anyone who has witnessed tobacco-related illnesses knows that it is worth quitting,” he said. “What’s even better is that we will be there for you every step along the way.”
For questions concerning Coast Guard tobacco policies, contact Tim Merrell, the Health Promotion Program manager, at (202) 475-5146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.