American Lung Association Salutes U.S. Military Families and Encourages Them to Quit Smoking

(November 10, 2011)

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces have made countless sacrifices to protect our nation. This Veterans Day, the American Lung Association is encouraging current and former military members and their family members to protect themselves from the health hazards of smoking.

The American Lung Association is committed to helping U.S. military families quit smoking and is offering a 50 percent military discount to enroll in its proven smoking cessation program, Freedom From Smoking® Online. The discount applies to active-duty military members and veterans, as well as their family members. To redeem the discount, those who qualify should visit www.ffsonline.org and enter the following code: 50UNIFORM50.

Smoking is a significant problem in the U.S. military. Among current smokers in the military, 29.7 percent started to smoke after joining. Department of Defense survey data from 2008 show possible reasons for this high initiation rate: 33 percent of active duty personnel say that cigarettes are available at many places on installations, making it easy to smoke, and more than 36 percent of service members report that “most” of their friends in the service smoke.

Smoking rates are particularly high among deployed service members. The Veterans Administration estimates that more than 50 percent of all active duty personnel currently stationed in Iraq smoke.

“Quitting smoking is the single most important step smokers can take to improve their health,” said Mary Ella Douglas, smoking cessation expert at the American Lung Association. “This is especially true for our troops, as studies show that smoking impairs military readiness. The American Lung Association is committed to helping U.S. military members defeat their tobacco addiction through proven programs like Freedom From Smoking® Online.”

Tobacco use significantly compromises troop readiness, and it imposes high costs on the Department of Defense and Veterans' Administration.

In 2008, the Veterans Administration reported spending over $5 billion to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Surgeon General has estimated that “about 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung diseases are attributable to cigarette smoking.”

A large number of smokers in the military want to and plan to quit. In the 2005 Department of Defense Survey, 23.6 percent of current smokers in the military indicated that they were planning to quit in the next 30 days. Thirty-eight percent intended to quit in the next six months.

Unfortunately, many of these personnel are not able to quit successfully on their own. In 2004, 48.2 percent of current smokers surveyed attempted to quit, but were unsuccessful.

“Quitting smoking is extremely difficult,” said Douglas. “Veterans Day is a perfect opportunity for us to express our gratitude to our country’s service members and provide them with ‘backup’ as they confront this threat to their lung health head on and overcome their addiction to tobacco.”

The American Lung Association has several programs that help tens of thousands of smokers take the big step of quitting each year. Freedom From Smoking® provides a personalized step-by-step quit plan and is offered online (www.ffsonline.org) or as a group clinic to help smokers work through the problems and process of quitting. The Lung HelpLine, 1-800-LUNG-USA, provides smoking cessation counseling and one-on-one support from registered nurses and respiratory therapists. Smoking cessation support, lung cancer treatment information and additional resources are available at www.Lung.org.

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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.