Tobacco Cessation

  • Published
  • By 8th Medical Group
  • 8th Fighter Wing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that there are more deaths caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined.  Every year, smoking causes about 480,000 deaths in the United States.  It is estimated that an adult male smoker loses an average of 13.2 years of life and a female smoker loses 14.5 years of life because of smoking. 

Air Force Instruction 40-102, "Tobacco Use in the Air Force," encourages a tobacco-free Air Force.  The rate of military members who smoke is 3.9 percent higher than civilian population and threatens military readiness by diminishing physical stamina, exacerbating health problems, increasing risk of surgical complications, and delaying wound healing. 

The 8th Medical Group Pharmacy and the Health Promotions Center advocate a smoke-free environment by offering tobacco cessation classes and support groups to aid Airmen to quit smoking. 

There is no secret to quit smoking, chew or snuff, but the American Cancer Society believes the best chance of quitting comes from knowing what you are up against, what your options are, and where to go for help. The following are facts on tobacco use that may provide some perspective.

1. Why is it so hard to quit?  Nicotine is an addictive drug that is legally sold in many countries including the United States.  Over time, a person may become physically and emotionally dependent to nicotine, and quitting leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.  When nicotine is inhaled, it reaches the brain faster than a drug entering the body through a vein.  It is carried deep into the lungs, quickly absorbed into the bloodstream along with other toxins, and sent to all parts of the body.  Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms lead many quitters back to using nicotine and include: dizziness, depression, feelings of frustration, impatience, anger, anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, trouble concentrating, restlessness, headaches, tiredness, increased appetite, weight gain, constipation and gas, cough, dry mouth, sore throat, nasal drip, chest tightness and a slower heart rate. 

2. How does smoking affect your health?  Smoking harms almost all parts of the body.  In the United States, smoking is responsible for one in five deaths, and more than 16 million people suffer from smoking-related diseases such as cancer, lung disease, heart attacks, strokes, blood vessel diseases and blindness, in addition to special risks to women and babies. 

3. What are the benefits over time?

Time after quitting Benefits
20 minutes Heart rate and blood pressure drop.
12 hours Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal.
2 weeks to 3 months Circulation improves and lung function increases.
1 to 9 months Cough and shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal function in lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year Excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.
5 years Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder are cut in half.  Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker.  Stroke risk can fall to that of a non-smoker after 2-5 years.
10 years Risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person who is still smoking.  The risk of cancer of the larynx and pancreas decrease.
15 years Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker.


4. What are the immediate rewards to quit smoking?  Better smelling breath, stained teeth naturally get whiter, bad smells on clothes and hair go away, yellow fingers and fingernails disappear, food tastes better, sense of smell returns to normal, everyday activities are easier to accomplish, you save money, greater social acceptance, the health of others around you, and being a role model. 

Kunsan Air Base currently provides one-on-one counseling for patients ready to quit as soon as possible.  We are part of a multi-disciplinary team that allows patients and providers to develop a personal quit plan for changing behaviors, minimizing withdrawal symptoms, discovering barriers to quitting, tailoring therapies to help our team quit, and ensuring continued success.  Current first-line therapies available are nicotine replacement therapy, such as Nicotine® gum (2 mg, 4 mg) and Nicotine ® patches (7 mg, 14 mg, and 21 mg) and oral medications, such as Bupropion HCl 150 mg.  A common second-line therapy is Chantix (0.5 mg and 1 mg).

Tobacco cessation classes and support groups are held at the 8th Medical Group's Pharmacy (building 405) Mondays at 4 p.m. and Wednesdays at 8 a.m..  Walk-ins are welcome and online classes are also available. 

For more information or if you have any questions about tobacco cessation, call the 8 MDG Pharmacy at 782-5177.