New smoking cessation site helps Airmen kick butts

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Clark Staehle
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force has set up a new initiative to help Airmen kick their tobacco habits. 

The program, dubbed "Make Everyone Proud," is a Web-based tobacco cessation initiative designed to help people come together to talk about their problems with smoking. 

The site offers two key elements to help users quit. The site is staffed with counselors, called cessation coaches, who are available to talk with Airmen seven days a week. Also, the site is designed with a forum, where people can post anonymous messages and replies relating to their experiences, questions and successes. 

The new Web site is just one more tool the Air Force can use to help Airmen quit using tobacco. Aside from the new Web site, the 48th Medical Group Health and Wellness Center offers tobacco cessation classes twice a month - one at RAF Mildenhall, the other at RAF Lakenheath. 

Airmen in grades E-1 through E-5s use tobacco products more than anyone else in the Air Force, according to Maj. Cathy Snowball, chief of the Health and Wellness Center. 

"If you know anything about nicotine or have done any research, quitting is extremely hard," she said. "Our big worry is yes, right now as a young person, you're going to pass your fitness test, but as you get older it's going to affect your lungs, and your long-term health." 

What's more, tobacco use harms more than just the smoker. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, second hand smoke makes people more susceptible to certain diseases. Second hand smoke increases the risk of heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent for nonsmokers. It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and slows lung growth in children. 

Smoking habits also result in lost productivity for the Air Force. 

According to the major, during 2007 RAF Mildenhall lost more than $1.3 million to tobacco users - through smoke breaks and smoking-related illnesses. During the same time, RAF Lakenheath lost almost $1.9 million. 

Helping Airmen quite smoking is a priority for the Air Force, according to senior leadership. 

"Our number two priority is taking care of Airmen and their families and being concerned for their health and well being definitely fits that priority," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley said in an email sent out with the program's announcement. "I ask all leaders to join me in encouraging our Airmen and their families to live a healthy lifestyle." 

For more information on kicking the habit, call the RAF Mildenhall HAWC at 238-7161, the RAF Lakenheath HAWC at 226-2710 or log on to