Yokota helps its members live longer
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- From the beginning of a service member's career, change is a constant factor -- whether good or bad. Most change is out of the member's hands, but one life-saving change they can control is smoking.
A Yokota Tobacco Cessation class gives base members the tools needed to take the next step towards a smoke-free lifestyle.
"The purpose of the class is to inform individuals of methods to become and stay tobacco-free," said Staff Sgt. Treshawna Gwendo, Health and Wellness Center NCO in charge and Tobacco Cessation class instructor.
Smoking half a pack a day costs a smoker approximately $1,300 a year at $7 a pack, and according to the American Lung Association, tobacco use costs the Department of Defense around $1.6 billion per year due to tobacco-related health issues.
"Military personnel who smoke do not perform as well on physical fitness tests compared to nonsmoking personnel," said Maj. Stacey Van Orden, Health and Wellness Center Flight commander. "In a study of how smoking status and being overweight predicts fitness levels among a military population, smoking was a stronger and more consistent predictor of fitness for duty (including physical and mental health) than being overweight."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke each year, and another 8.6 million people live with a serious illness caused by smoking.
Although the reasons for smoking are different for everyone, one reason stands out for military smokers.
"People usually say they smoke to deal with stress and anxiety," Gwendo said.
This reason for smoking can be counterproductive since the ALA also states that individuals who use smoke to relieve stress from military duty report significantly more stress from work than non-smokers.
Some Yokota members may think that no classroom environment could help their addiction, but Gwendo has seen positive results.
"The classes have a strong impact on members who attend," she said. "Some individuals may think there's no way to quit other than 'cold turkey.' The Health and Wellness Center is here to inform them of the ways to quit smoking and using tobacco products. We're also here to help people stay committed to their decisions. We work hand-in-hand with individuals and their doctors to get them on the right track."
At Yokota, Tobacco Cessation classes are held at 1:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month at the HAWC.
Smokers outside of Yokota don't have to quit alone. The CDC and ALA have several resources to help kick the habit on their Web sites, www.cdc.gov and www.lung.org.
People interested in participating in Yokota's Tobacco Cessation classes can call the HAWC at 225-8322.