PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii- Sailorsfrom submarines attached to Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam chose to use the Great American Smokeout (GASO), Nov. 18, as an incentive to quit smoking altogether.  No later than Dec. 31, 2010, all submarines are scheduled to ban smoking below decks.

Because tobacco use is such a serious issue and smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society, the GASO has challenged smokers to quit for one day. The GASO is an American Cancer Society sponsored initiative held annually across the United States to encourage smokers to quit smoking and promote the cessation of use of all types of tobacco - cigarettes, cigars, pipe, and chewing.

“Our part in supporting the GASO this year is to promote awareness and educate participants on the long term effects of smoking, second hand smoke and smokeless tobacco,” said Tracy Navarrete, Naval Health Clinic, Hawaii, Health Promotions Director.  “It is estimated that more individuals quit smoking during the GASO, than any other day of the year.”

In conjunction with the GASO, smoking cessation assistance training programs are implemented on all COMSUBPAC submarines. The programs incorporate education and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches and gum, to assist in kicking the smoking habit. Each submarine has two tobacco cessation training facilitators who are qualified to help participants stop smoking by providing them with all of the essential information and strategies needed to direct their own efforts at stopping.

“The instant you quit smoking the reverse effects start happening immediately,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Dave Mathews, COMSUBPAC tobacco cessation training program coordinator. “We encourage our submariners to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible both on land and out at sea.”

According to the American Cancer Society, a number of changes begin to take place in the body shortly after a person quits smoking. Within 20 minutes after a smoker quits using tobacco, their blood pressure drops to normal. Eight hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in their blood returns to normal. Twenty-four hours later, their chances of a heart attack decreases. Ten years after putting down that last cigarette, the former smoker’s lung cancer death rate is about half of a smoker’s.

“As a smoker, I have tried numerous times to quit. I plan on using today as a starting point to finally kick this bad habit for good,” said Fire Control Technician 2nd Class (SS) James Naglie, USS Texas (SSN 775) crew member.

As COMSUBPAC continues to support global maritime security and take on whatever challenges the mission brings, the GASO and smoking ban below decks is destined to ensure a healthier lifestyle for all submariners while they continue their silent service legacy as the world’s greatest submarine force. 

Additional resources to help “kick the habit” are available at each military medical treatment facility and at www.ucanquit2.org.