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Students at Quantico Middle/High School learn about the consequences of tobacco use Nov. 18 during national American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout week. The base health initiative is dedicated to help reduce medical costs, enhancing medical readiness and providing educational services.

Photo by Ida Irby

Quantico kicks butts in cold turkey trot

25 Nov 2015 | Ida Irby Marine Corps Base Quantico

Staff from the Semper Fit Health Promotion and Naval Health Clinic Quantico visited several locations from Nov. 16 to Nov. 20 in coordination with the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout, which promotes annual events since 1970 to encourage a non-smoking lifestyle.

The Great American Smokeout was held as part of the Healthy Base Initiative. Simper Fit Heath Promotion’s week-long tour included Headquarters and Service Battalion, The Basic School, Barber Physical Activity Center, and Quantico Middle/High School.

“Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to quit smoking,” said Madison McLean, Semper Fit Heath specialist.

During WWII, Sailors and Marines received tobacco products as part of C-rations, and consequently today the “Marine Corps has the highest percentage of smokers” throughout the Department of Defense, said Walker.

According to Nancy Walker, NHCQ registered nurse and health educator, the smokeout is a time when tobacco users are asked to consider quitting for just one day in the hope that maybe it can be done for longer, maybe forever.

The CDC reported in a 2015 analysis that cigarette smoking leads to more than 480,000 American deaths each year.

“Unfortunately, some of us ignore this reality, because tobacco use seems to be such a good friend,” said Walker. “Smoking seems to provide some degree of relief from stress and sometimes helps to deal with boredom. Yet, the temporary relief tobacco use provides masks the nasty stuff some of us don’t want to acknowledge as being part of our future.”

That future may include an increase in illness in comparison to non-smokers. Smokers encounter increased chances for heart attacks, strokes, cancer, bronchitis, and even dental problems.

Students at the middle-high school had the opportunity to gather information for themselves and ask questions about trending nicotine products. Alternative nicotine use, such as hookah and e-cigarettes, are gaining popularity among the youth.

“We are here to give everyone information and help them reach personal goals. Evan if they choose cutting back, which is also a healthy transition from smoking. Hopefully Marines want to quit, and when they do we will be that guiding force to get them information and support,” said McLean.

Generally, nicotine replacement is used with medication. When smokers decide to quit, many of them suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. Nicotine replacement also helps people by breaking the social habits behind smoking or routines of tobacco use.

Healthcare specialists on base provide nicotine replacement therapy medication, tobacco cessation classes, individual counseling, and unit workshops. For more information visit www.youcanquit2.org, or call 703-926-8430 and 703-784-1830.

— Writer: iirby@quanticosentryonline.com

Marine Corps Base Quantico