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DOD officials urge service members to stop using tobacco

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Each year, more than a million people successfully quit using tobacco, and Defense Department officials want more service members included in that number in 2011.

"In the tradition of New Year's, we are asking our active-duty and retired service members and their families to make a resolution to quit (using) tobacco," said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Aileen Buckler, the chair of the DOD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee. "Tobacco use impairs military readiness and results in serious health problems, so New Year's is a great time to commit to stopping tobacco use."

With studies showing people are 10 times more likely to succeed in behavior change when acting on a resolution, New Year's appears to be the perfect opportunity to start the process of stopping tobacco use.

"But making a resolution to quit (using) tobacco is just the beginning," Dr. Buckler said. "Developing a strategic plan to overcome obstacles and stay on course is the ultimate key to successful quitting. DOD has developed a comprehensive set of tools and a support system to help individuals prepare to follow through on their New Year's resolution."

Dr. Buckler referred to several TRICARE resources, including "Quit Tobacco -- Make Everyone Proud," DOD's tobacco cessation campaign. TRICARE is DOD's managed health care system.

The campaign's website, www.ucanquit2.org, features Train2Quit, an online support system that uses interactive quit tools, self-assessment questionnaires, quizzes and other activities. The support system shows service members how to create a customizable quit plan with a calendar to track progress and learn how to beat cravings, overcome weight gain and cope with the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

The site also offers live help with links to personal quit coaches, available seven days a week, 24 hours a day to get answers to questions about quitting tobacco use and how to stay tobacco-free.

The website also features a New Year's resolutions page, where individuals can post their resolution to quit using tobacco. Individuals can send e-cards of their resolution to quit using tobacco, and family and friends also can send e-cards of encouragement to those trying to quit.

New Year's smoking cessation materials are available free-of-charge for health professionals and other installation leaders to order or download to help promote events. The site also features an "I made a resolution to quit tobacco in 2011" badge that can be downloaded to a Facebook page.

Users of the DOD website can sign up to receive quit tips via text messages or personal widget downloads. The site also provides medication information, news articles, podcasts, RSS feeds, special monthly features and much more.

All non-Medicare eligible beneficiaries can receive assistance with smoking cessation through TRICARE's toll-free smoking help line. Toll-free telephone lines are available in each TRICARE region, offering around-the-clock support.

"We are committed to helping all members and former members of our armed services and anyone close to them start the journey to a healthier lifestyle in the coming new year," Dr. Buckler said.

(From a TRICARE news release)