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DOD, VA should take stronger steps to combat tobacco use in military, veteran populations
Date:6/26/2009

rograms, DOD and VA could eventually be tobacco free with minimal disruption, and with substantial benefit to military personnel and veterans."

DOD and VA should ensure that all personnel have quick and easy access to comprehensive, evidence-based tobacco-cessation services, the report says. All DOD and VA health care providers should be able to provide brief counseling and nicotine-replacement therapy to patients. In addition, the committee recommended that VA and DOD develop toll-free "quitlines" to provide military personnel and veterans with counseling on quitting tobacco. Quitline counselors should be trained to deal with issues related to these populations, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Defense Department should set a date by which the military will be tobacco-free and require each of the four services to develop and enforce a timeline for achieving this goal, the report says. Recognizing that immediately banning tobacco use in deployed personnel is not realistic, the committee urged an incremental strategy, starting with closing the pipeline of new tobacco users entering the military. Smoking should be banned at military academies, and the current ban on tobacco use during basic training should be extended to include subseqent technical training. That ban could eventually be extended to all new enlistees, who would be informed during recruitment that they would be expected to remain tobacco-free during their entire military careers.

Eventually, all military installations and active-duty personnel should be required to be tobacco-free -- a goal that could realistically be achieved in 20 years or even sooner, if the plan's initial phase for military academies and new recruits starts within a year, the report says.

Only with assistance from DOD and VA will tobacco use be stopped, the report says, and ideally DOD should not sell tobacco products as they inhibit military readiness. As a first step, DOD
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Contact: Sara Frueh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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