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31st MDG implements tobacco policy

Aviano Air Base, Italy -- The 31st Medical Group has implemented a 'no tobacco in uniform' policy for all active-duty medical group personnel. 

The policy doesn't affect other units on base, but it will affect people visiting base medical facilities. 

The policy prohibits tobacco use around all medical group complexes and parking lots including the Medical Treatment Facility, Life Skills, Family Advocacy, Educational Developmental Intervention Services, and the flight medicine clinic. 

When visiting 31st MDG complexes, all base personnel, dependents and visitors, including local nationals, may only use tobacco products in front of the 31st MDG commanders' parking spot in Area One and behind Pass and Registration in Area F. 
The 31st MDG commanders parking spot is the farthest parking spot away from the hospital and near the base wall. Tobacco products include: cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco. 

"This initiative was created to protect the well-being of 31st MDG personnel, patients and visitors from the devastating affects of tobacco exposure," said Senior Airman Carla Montiel, Health and Wellness Center tobacco cessation manager. 

Col. Michael Schaffrinna, 31st MDG commander, said tobacco use results in serious health consequences including increased risk of heart disease and ear, nose, throat and lung cancer. 

"It is an addiction that affects not only the user, but those around them," he said. "Do you know that 10 percent of infant deaths in the U.S. would not occur if pregnant women did not smoke? Then there is the risk of secondhand smoke - how many young children with asthma would not have asthma if it weren't for their parents who smoke? 

"In the U.S., 440,000 deaths each year are attributed to smoking," he said. "If this policy forces one member of my group to stop [using tobacco products], it was worth it!" 

Colonel Schaffrinna added that tobacco use presents a poor image of the Air Force.
"When I think Air Force, I think of an agile, powerful, patriotic force controlling air, space and cyberspace," he said. "[Tobacco use] just doesn't fit that image. 

"When our children see a man or woman in uniform who is [using tobacco products], is that uniformed person acting as advertising agents for tobacco companies?" 

People interested in quitting smoking can attend an eight-week Tobacco Cessation class. The class has already started but people can attend the next session from noon to 1 p.m. or 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Buon Appetito Dining Facility in Area Two. To sign up for the class, call the HAWC at Ext. 4573. 

"A smoke-free workforce is a healthier workforce and is better able to serve our country," Colonel Schaffrinna added.

Thinking about quitting?
· Twenty minutes after quitting - Your heart rate and blood pressure drop. 

· Twelve hours after quitting - The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. 

· Two weeks to three months after quitting - Your circulation improves and your lung function increases. 

· One to nine months after quitting - Coughing and shortness of breath decrease, cilia - the tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs - regain normal function resulting in increased ablility to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce the risk of infection. 

· One year after quitting - The risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.
· Five years after quitting - Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker. 

· Ten years after quitting - The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker. The risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervical and pancreatic cancer decreases. 

· Fifteen years after quitting - The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker. 

(Information courtesy of the 31st Medical Group and the American Cancer Society)