Kicking the habit: Base joins annual campaign to quit Published Nov. 6, 2014 By Stuart Bapties Robins Health and Wellness Center ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Great American Smokeout is an annual event on the third Thursday of every November - sponsored by the American Cancer Society - that encourages Americans to stop smoking for 24 hours. The first Great American Smokeout was conducted in San Francisco's Union Square on Nov. 16, 1977 when the California Division of the American Cancer Society successfully prompted nearly one million smokers to quit for the day. This year Team Robins will continue the tradition of encouraging and supporting tobacco users to quit by encouraging them to stop by the Health and Wellness Center, the 78th Medical Group, the Occupational Medicine Clinic or to see one of the Civilian Health Promotions staff members between Nov. 1 and 20 to pick up a free quit kit by taking the pledge of being Tobacco Free Nov. 20. If you have a friend, family member or co-workers who you want to encourage and support being tobacco free, we also encourage you to take the pledge to support. What are the reasons to support The Great American Smokeout by not using tobacco for just one day? Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States. More than 443,000 Americans die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking. The harmful effects of smoking don't affect only the smoker. More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, and it's been proven that even brief exposure can be dangerous because nonsmokers inhale the same carcinogens and toxins in cigarette smoke as smokers. Secondhand smoke causes serious disease and death, including heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults and sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more frequent and severe asthma attacks. Each year - primarily because of exposure to secondhand smoke - an estimated 3,000 nonsmoking Americans die of lung cancer, more than 46,000 die of heart disease, and between 150,000 and 300,000 children younger than 18 months have lower respiratory tract infections. Coupled with the enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use - more than $193 billion per year in medical expenditures and lost productivity. That's the reason smoking is prohibited on Robins except in areas that have a sign designating them as a Tobacco Use Area. If there's no sign, there's no authorized smoking. That includes parking lots and sidewalks. It's easy and in some cases free. Employees and dependents at Robins, using Tricare or any of the existing Federal Employee Health Benefits Plans are 100 percent covered for Tobacco Cessation Programs to include use of medications at no cost. Employees and family members with base access can take tobacco cessation classes through the Health and Wellness Center or can do free counseling over the phone at their own convenience by calling Robins' very own American Lung Association QUITLINE at 877-695-7848. Use of either of these methods will provide access to nicotine replacement therapy if indicated. Tobacco users who enroll for tobacco cessation classes with the Health and Wellness Center or who call the American Lung Association during the month of November will receive a gift package from the Health and Wellness Center. Editor's note: For more information, call DSN 222-6907.