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Commit to Quit: HAWC challenges people to give up tobacco Sunday

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Robins Air Force Base's Health and Wellness Center is challenging tobacco users to ditch the habit.

Every year, on Sunday1, the World Health Organization and partners across the globe observe World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco exposure.  

The campaign was designed to encourage people to abandon the habit for one day, and consider setting a "commit to quit" date.

Stuart Bapties, Robins HAWC flight chief, said tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S.

"Every year, roughly 400,000 Americans die prematurely and another 8.6 million have a serious illness related to tobacco use," he said. "Those numbers don't just include smokers. 

"More than 126 million nonsmoking Americans are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke," he added. "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 exposure 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, Bapties said.

Tobacco use not only hurts your physical health, but it also harms your financial well-being.

"At an average cost of around $6 a pack on military installations, a pack-a-day smoker spends more than $2,000 a year just for cigarettes," Bapties said. "Plus, there's the cost of lighters, gas to make emergency runs to the store, and extra cleaning and repair bills for their home, car, clothing and teeth."

Smokeless tobacco products put a similar dent in tobacco user's wallets, Bapties said.

"Figure out how much you are spending on tobacco, and it can be a great motivator and positive incentive for setting a quit date and doing something else with that money," he said.

There's help for people who want to quit.

Employees and dependents at Robins Air Force Base, using either Tri-Care 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, Bapties said.

"Evidence shows those using medications in their quit attempts are 44 percent more likely to be successful when they combine it with tobacco cessation counseling," Bapties said. "It's free of charge to everyone with access to the base and available at the HAWC every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to noon or by simply calling our QUITLINE at 1-877-695-7848," he said.  

For more information, call (478) 327-8480.

Tobacco Facts
-Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people each year. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless the current tide is reversed, the annual death toll is projected to rise to more than eight million by 2030. 

-In adults, second-hand smoke causes serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including coronary heart disease and lung cancer.  In infants, it causes sudden death. In pregnant women it causes low birth weight.