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Tobacco-Free Living

The Air Force Medical Service is dedicated to the health and wellness of all our Service members and their families. Reducing the use of tobacco products is an essential strategy in improving the overall health of our total force. Raising awareness of the health effects of tobacco products is one step in our plan to reduce overall tobacco use. There are also many military and civilian programs that assist individuals who want to be tobacco free.

Adverse effects of tobacco use

It’s a fact that smoking and using smokeless tobacco products are harmful to the human body. Cancer of the lungs, mouth, and throat are the most common health conditions associated with smoking; however, every system in the body is affected. Health conditions that are associated with tobacco use can include:


  • Poison found in cigarette smoke can cause cancer and weaken your body’s ability to fight disease
  • Smoking can cause cancer anywhere in the body
  • The most common form of cancer caused by smoking is lung cancer
  • Nine out of ten cases of lung cancer are caused by cigarette smoking

Heart conditions

  • Smoking increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease
  • Smoking is responsible for up to one-third of deaths due to cardiovascular disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • COPD refers to diseases that block airflow in the lungs, causing breathing problems
    • Emphysema
    • Chronic bronchitis
  • Smoking is the leading cause of COPD
  • Smoking causes eight out of ten COPD-related deaths

Smoking cessation

Tobacco-free living is avoiding use of all types of tobacco products - including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipes and hookahs - and also living free from secondhand smoke exposure.

If you’re a smoker, the best way to prevent undesired health consequences is to quit smoking immediately. It takes time, but most of the damage caused by smoking can be resolved after quitting. The risk of a heart attack drops significantly after one year and, after two years, the chance of stroke is reduced to that of a nonsmoker. Five years after quitting, the risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, and bladder cancer drops by 50 percent.

There are also many benefits to smoking cessation aside from preventing disease. Quitting makes it easier to breath, making physical activity easier and more enjoyable. Many people also report an improved sense of taste and smell after quitting smoking. It’s important to note that by choosing not to smoke, you are preventing your family, friends, and co-workers from being exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke.

Kick the Habit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following tips to help smokers:

Don’t smoke any cigarettes. Each cigarette you smoke damages your lungs, your blood vessels, and cells throughout your body. Even occasional smoking is harmful.

Write down why you want to quit. Do you want to:

  • Be around for your loved ones?
  • Have better health?
  • Set a good example for your children?
  • Protect your family from breathing other people’s smoke?

Really wanting to quit smoking is very important to how much success you will have in quitting.

Know that it will take commitment and effort to quit smoking. Nearly all smokers have some feelings of nicotine withdrawal when they try to quit. Nicotine is addictive. Knowing this will help you deal with withdrawal symptoms that can occur, such as bad moods and really wanting to smoke.

There are many ways smokers quit, including using nicotine replacement products (gum and patches) or FDA-approved, non-nicotine cessation medications. Some people do not experience any withdrawal symptoms. For most people, symptoms only last a few days to a couple of weeks. Take quitting one day at a time, even one minute at a time - whatever you need to succeed.

Get help if you want it. Smokers can receive free resources and assistance to help them quit by calling the 800-QUIT-NOW quit line (800-784-8669) or by visiting CDC's Tips From Former Smokers. Your health care providers are also a good source for help and support.

Concerned about weight gain? It's a common concern, but not everyone gains weight when they stop smoking. Learn ways to help you control your weight as you quit smoking.

Remember this good news! More than half of all adult smokers have quit, and you can, too. Millions of people have learned to face life without a cigarette. Quitting smoking is the single most important step you can take to protect your health and the health of your family.

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