With an eye on preserving one of Fort Bragg’s most essential resources — the Soldier, health officials kicked off a two-day celebration of World No Tobacco Day.
According to Internet research, the day is set aside each May 31 to highlight the risk associated with tobacco use and to advocate for effective policies to reduce consumption. World No Tobacco Day was created by the World Health Assembly in 1987.
Fort Bragg took part in this year’s celebration with a health fair on May 30 and by holding Ready to Quit sessions, May 31, each held at Sports USA on Longstreet Road.
World No Tobacco Day is significant for Fort Bragg personnel and Families because it helps, envision a healthy way of living, said Capt. Lathasha Wytch-Burgess, public health nurse, Department of Preventive Medicine. “It will also help our Soldiers to be mission and combat ready, and they’ll be able to perform better,” she said.
Not only are Soldiers targeted for World No Tobacco Day, but Family members are as well, Wytch-Burgess said. It’s easier for a Soldier to quit smoking or using tobacco products if the servicemember has the support of Family.
The benefits of not smoking far outweigh the risks.
For the military, tobacco cessation is a win-win situation that includes being able to cut back on healthcare expenses and being able to create healthier communities for servicemembers and their Families.
Spc. Nicholas Davis, a dental hygienist, dental activities, signed a one-day pledge to remain tobacco free.
“I hereby pledge to remain tobacco free on World No Tobacco Day 31 May 2012, I will not use any tobacco products or allow myself to be enticed by anyone to use tobacco products on this day. I will be in control of my life and my body at all times. It is my sole responsibility and no else is at fault if I fail,” the card read.
“I know smoking is bad,” said Davis, who has served four year and is a Fayetteville native. “I really just want to test myself out and see if I can do it for a day.”
Thirty-one percent of Soldiers smoke and 18 percent use dip, said Karen Goepfrich, of the DPM Wellness Center. The national use target for 2020 is 12 percent, said Goepfrich, who empasizes the financial toll associated with smoking and understands that Fort Bragg values and protects its investment in Soldiers by ending tobacco use and curbing dependency.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 compounds, including cyanide, acetone, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, Goepfrich said. It contains more than 60 carcinogens (cancer causing agents) such as benzene or nitrosamines, and causes 90 percent of all lung cancers.
Smokers, aged 35 to 54, have a 12 times greater risk of dying from heart-related deaths as opposed to nonsmokers.
Kay Cartwright, a registered nurse at Robinson Health Clinic, said that using tobacco products could lead to problems such as oral cancer, gum erosion and tooth discoloration. Readily available alternatives are herbal chewing tobacco and gum.
One significant thing that servicemembers and their Families should remember is that although quitting seems difficult, it can be accomplished.
“Tobacco is highly addictive. But, quit one day at a time; make a pledge to yourself,” said Cartwright. “Set a date and then quit. It’s hard, but it can be done.”