American Lung Association Lauds New Health Initiative, Encourages Tobacco-free Culture in Navy and Marine Corps

Statement of Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association

(March 5, 2012)

“The American Lung Association commends Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for taking important steps to confront the military’s tobacco epidemic. The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative will help Sailors and Marines quit tobacco, promote tobacco-free environments and put in place environmental changes that will reduce tobacco use throughout the Navy and Marine Corps. This is an unprecedented investment in the comprehensive health of Sailors, Marines and their families.

“To its great credit, the leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps has recognized this issue and is calling ‘all hands on deck’ to change the status quo and overcome the self-defeating culture of heavy tobacco use. We laud the efforts of Navy and Marine Corps leaders on this front and look forward to a future in which all tobacco products are dishonorably discharged from the Sea Services.

“This initiative smartly incorporates aspects of the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2009 to implement a systematic approach to denormalizing and eliminating tobacco use by members of the U.S. armed services.

“It is our hope that the Department of the Navy will continue to press forward and further implement the IOM’s broad range of recommendations to develop and enforce a timeline for achieving complete tobacco-free status, recognizing that smokeless tobacco products—which the tobacco industry is now pushing even more aggressively—sustain addiction to nicotine.

“Tobacco use is a significant problem in the U.S. military. Evidence shows that it drastically compromises troop readiness, and it imposes high healthcare costs on the Department of Defense and Veterans' Administration.

“Today’s actions by Secretary Mabus are an important step in the right direction for the protection of America’s Sailors and Marines.”

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.