Kentucky National Guard embraces smoking cessation program

Story by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

cigarette soldierFRANKFORT, Ky. — If Uncle Sam and the state of Kentucky have their way, the image of the cigar chomping, cigarette smoking GI will soon be a thing of the past.

In an expanded tobacco-free order announced by Governor Steve Beshear on September 4, 2014, all state buildings, grounds, and fleet will become free of all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, effective on this year’s American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Day, November 20, 2014.

Guard members and employees should note that this affects most Kentucky National Guard armories, readiness centers, training and maintenance facilities.  Our three training centers will go completely tobacco-free indoors, but tobacco usage will be allowed outdoors. Those Kentucky Guard facility operations on federal owned or leased properties such as Fort Knox, Bluegrass Depot and the Kentucky Air National Guard base in Louisville are not affected.  Bluegrass Station is also exempt.

While all armories will go to tobacco free indoors, outdoor tobacco use will be permitted during special events when the facility is rented by a third party.

Smoking cessation isn’t just a state thing.  The Army’s message focuses on mission readiness, with the message of  “Using tobacco impairs your mission readiness. By quitting smoking you can begin improving your performance right away. Do it for yourself, do it for your battle buddies, because you are a role model and important part of the United States Military.”

Mission ready defeat tobacco“Smoking is absolutely detrimental to the resilience of our Service Members,” said Savannah Caceres, Alcohol and Drug Control Officer for the Kentucky National Guard. “Research has shown that tobacco use is a no win. The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial, especially with your heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking.”

Caceres explained that the benefits of not smoking are substantial. “Within a few hours of giving up smoking, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline,” she said. “Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Also, within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often.”

Caceres added that within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function

“Another benefit is that people who quit smoking will have an improved sense of smell, and food will taste better,” she said.

Significant events in smoking cessation

  • In 2010, Gov. Beshear made Medicaid recipients eligible for nicotine replacement therapy and tobacco cessation medications. Those who received the prescriptions or drugs would be required to enroll in counseling programs.
  • In 2011, Gov. Beshear expanded the counseling services of the Kentucky Tobacco Quit Line to younger Kentuckians to improve services available to youth interested in giving up cigarettes or other tobacco products. With this change, the Quit Line began providing services to Kentucky youth ages 15 to 17 years old. Prior to this change, services were available only to people 18 and older.
  • Medicaid Expansion and Private Health Insurance — When Gov. Beshear expanded Medicaid eligibility in May 2013, more than 300,000 Kentuckians gained new access to free tobacco cessation resources through the program.  Additionally, the Affordable Care Act requires all health insurance plans, whether public or private, to provide comprehensive coverage for tobacco cessation. Since open enrollment last fall, more than 80,000 Kentuckians purchased private health insurance through kynect and now have resources to help them quit using tobacco.

RESOURCES

Nicotine Anonymous (www.nicotine-anonymous.org) is a non-profit 12 step fellowship of men and women helping each other live nicotine-free lives.  Nicotine Anonymous welcomes all seeking freedom from nicotine addiction, including those using cessation programs and nicotine withdrawal aids.

Quit Tobacco – Make Everyone Proud  (http://www.ucanquit2.org/) is an educational campaign for the U.S. military, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Launched in February of 2007, the mission of the campaign website is to help U.S. service members quit tobacco—for themselves and for the people they love.

Tobacco Free Kentucky (https://tobacco-free.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx) has been created to support the initiative and offers answers to frequently asked questions, select state building property boundary maps, and resources for quitting.

For more information on how to stop smoking contact:

Savannah Caceres – Alcohol & Drug Control Officer, 502- 607-1062
E-mail: b.t.caceres-lund@accenturefederal.com
Shannon Horn – Prevention Coordinator, 502-607-1062
E-mail: shannon.horn@accenturefederal.com

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