Knowing when to quit: Tobacco cessation prolongs life, saves money

  • Published
  • By Crystal Spears-Jones
  • Health and Wellness Center
Tobacco cessation is a process that simply refers to quitting smoking or dipping tobacco products.

Quitting is not easy. The process can involve short-term side effects, such as weight gain, irritability and anxiety.

Nevertheless, there are countless resources available to assist individuals with the tobacco cessation process.

The health and wellness center offers tobacco cessation programs for all active duty members, dependents and DoD civilians on a space available basis.

Squadron commanders can request a squadron tobacco cessation course at times and locations that are most convenient for the squadron. This comprehensive course is designed to reach Airmen who cannot commit to attending an eight-week tobacco cessation class. It takes place at the unit level and consists of briefings from the 4th Medical Group staff, mental health staff, an exercise physiologist, a registered dietitian, health educator and former tobacco users.

A tobacco cessation class is offered quarterly via the base-wide Fitness for Life Education Day. This class provides general information about the tobacco cessation process, measures participants' readiness to change and discusses common side effects of nicotine withdrawal, as well as resources that are available to help tobacco users quit and stay quit.

Many members of our community have indicated they cannot commit to attending an eight week, face-to-face, group course. To meet their needs, the HAWC markets the following courses:

Freedom from Smoking Online Course: This course is an interactive course designed to educate and modify the behavior patterns of smokers. Members are encouraged to enroll and complete the modules at their own pace. The online program emphasizes developing positive behavior change, building a support network and focusing on effective relaxation and weight loss strategies after quitting. The official Web site of the Freedom from Smoking Online is

Quit Tobacco, Make Everyone Proud: This is an educational campaign sponsored by DoD. The mission of this intervention is to help uniformed service personnel quit tobacco for themselves and for the people they love. The official web site of Quit Tobacco, Make Everyone Proud is

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following health benefits occur as a result of quitting smoking:
- Quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% of lung cancer deaths in women. The risk of dying from lung cancer is more than 23 times higher among men who smoke cigarettes and about 13 times higher among women who smoke cigarettes compared with non-smokers.
- Risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease is reduced after smoking cessation. Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. Cigarette smokers are two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than non-smokers. Coronary heart disease risk is substantially reduced within one to two years of cessation.
- Cessation reduces respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. The rate of decline in lung function is slower among persons who quit smoking.
- Reduces the risk of adverse reproductive and early childhood effects, including infertility, pre-term delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome.
- Reduces the risk of chronic disease development among non-smokers through secondhand smoke.
- Saves money.

Healthier alternatives to using tobacco the HAWC recommends include the following:

- Avoid tobacco products.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise helps people of all ages look and feel better.
- Eat sensibly. A nutritious diet is essential for maintaining good health and proper weight.
- Manage stress. Stress is a normal part of living. Three major steps to keep daily stress from becoming a problem: take time to relax, talk with a friend and learn to keep a positive outlook.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep.
- If you drink, drink in moderation. 
- Be safety-conscious. Living safely at home, work and on the road prevents accidents and injuries that could result in stress-filled incidents.

For additional information, contact the HAWC at 722-0407, or visit our Web page