Airmen kick butt during Great American Smoke Out

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The Vandenberg Health and Wellness Center is helping smokers kick their habit by sponsoring this years' Great American Smoke Out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Fitness Center. 

The Great American Smoke Out is a one-day event which encourages Americans to quit using all tobacco products for just one day. 

"That's all we're asking," said Emily Jewson, a GASO coordinator. "Nearly 70 percent of smokers want to quit. We're hoping that this event will be a jump start for Airmen to quit smoking for good." 

During their time at the Fitness Center, members of the HAWC will be handing out "Commit to Quit" kits and providing information on traditional and alternative quitting methods. 

"Many smokers know they want to quit, they just aren't sure which way will work for them," Ms. Jewson said. "Our expertise, along with the "Commit to Quit" kits, will give them some ideas on what avenue would be the best for them." 

The kits include not only facts about smoking and its harmful effects, but also materials to help Airmen work through the reasons why they smoke. 

"Everybody smokes for different reasons," Ms. Jewson said. "Usually, the smoking addiction is more about the psychological addiction as opposed to the physical addiction. Many people smoke because they think it calms them down, when in fact it, it does the opposite." 

The Great American Smoke Out also involves non-smokers. Non-smokers on base are encouraged to "adopt" a smoker for the day. They will be responsible for supporting, encouraging and even bribing the adoptee with incentives to stay tobacco free for 24 hours. 

"Most smokers need support in quitting," Ms. Jewson said. "They need the support from friends and family to realize the importance of not smoking." 

Thursday's event is one event among many to help Airmen who use tobacco products. The HAWC offers regular smoking cessation classes to Airmen and their dependants as well. According to the Air Force Population Health Division, more than 25 percent of Airmen use tobacco related products. 

In addition to the healthy benefits of quitting, participants will be entered to win a free "cold turkey" just in time for Thanksgiving. 

For more information about the Great American Smoke Out or tobacco cessation classes please stop by or call the HAWC at 606-2221. Stop by the Fitness Center or HAWC now through Nov. 16 to register for the Great American Smoke Out. 

For more information on quitting, visit the California Smokers Help Line at www.californiasmokershelpline.org, or call 1-800-NO-BUTTS. Information is also available at www.quitnet.com.