Tobacco-Free Living

 Annual Tobacco Cessation Events

Last Updated: November 02, 2020
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Tobacco jeopardizes the military by reducing the overall performance of the Soldier. Common concerns are military readiness, war fighting ability and overall work performance.

Great American Smokeout (GASO)

The GASO is scheduled in November of each year as a day of encouragement for smokers to refrain from using cigarettes for 24 hours. Join troops around the globe by quitting tobacco for the day, making a pledge to quit, or helping someone quit. To get involved in this event, just put your cigarettes away for 24 hours.

The American Cancer Society encourages smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.  Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done.  To stop using tobacco successfully, it is essential to know what your options are and where to go for help. 

Below are a few tips to help you prepare for the Great American Smokeout:

  • Keep water and/or juices on hand.
  • Create your own snack pack. Some items to include are carrots, celery, sugarless gum or sugarless candy.
  • Change your daily routine (i.e. take a different route to work).
  • Plan on taking a 10 minute afternoon walk.
  • Call/talk to a friend when you feel an urge to smoke.
  • Have a "Things to Do" list for the day. Keep busy.

American Cancer Society - QUIT LIKE A CHAMPION  External Link By quitting — even for one day — smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life.

Great American Smokeout Event Tools and Resources External Link (ACS)

Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or use chewing tobacco, the VA encourages you to quit tobacco for your health. Access this link for VA tobacco reduction and cessation resources and locations. External Link

Great American Spit Out (GASpO)

The GASpO occurs in February of each year as a means to raise awareness of the dangers associated with smokeless tobacco. Unfortunately, the myths concerning smokeless tobacco are still in existence, giving tobacco users a false hope. This is a great time to step up to the challenge of quitting smokeless tobacco. Stay dip-free for 24 hours and get started on a tobacco-free future. 

"Quit for a day or quit for good."

Some quit tips are:

  • Avoid triggers, situations that urge you to use tobacco.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or eat sunflower seeds as substitutes for tobacco.
  • Delay responding to an urge.

Get the facts

  • Even though this form of tobacco is not smoked, the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco are potentially serious.
  • Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of oral cancer, which includes lip, tongue, cheeks, gums and the roof of the mouth.
  • Constant exposure to the tobacco juices causes cancer of the esophagus, pharynx, larynx, stomach, bladder and pancreas.
  • Gum recession, disease and tooth decay have also been associated with tobacco use.

Chewing smokeless tobacco contains 28 carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). The most harmful carcinogens are tobacco – specific nitrosamines. However, it is the nicotine in these products that cause the addiction. Nicotine absorption in smokeless tobacco products is 3 to 4 times that of smoking tobacco products and its slow absorption allows for a longer length of stay in the bloodstream.

Through with Chew Week is in February

To combat smokeless tobacco use, several organizations, to include the American Academy of Otolaryngologists, have developed similar campaigns such as "Through with Chew" in conjunction with the Great American Spit Out. "Through With Chew," a one week smokeless awareness campaign, also occurs in February and has a website that provides a variety of additional tools that help with putting a stop to smokeless tobacco use.

Here are a few steps to take either on the Great American Spit Out or as part of the quit plan:

· Contact your healthcare provider to let him/her know of your decision to quit. There are medications that can help, if necessary.
· Chew sugarless gum or have sugarless candy on hand for when you have an urge.
· Drink plenty of water and use a straw to help with the need to chew.
· Create your personalized "To Do Lists" for each day in advance or simply keep busy when you have an urge.
· Consider relaxation walks as part of your lunch time or work breaks.
· Have an emergency support plan in place. Make Everyone Proud, also known as UCANQUIT2, has counselors available via telephone with supporting resources online.
· Call a friend that will support your efforts of being tobacco free.

Just for TEEN Chewers

Cancer Without the Smoke External Link Many young men think they'll avoid cancer if they chew tobacco instead of smoking it. But the disease is more insidious than they imagine.

More Smokeless Tobacco Cessation Information

American Cancer Society: Smokeless Tobacco External Link Learn about smokeless tobacco and get tips to help users quit.

National Cancer Institute: Smokeless Tobacco and Cancer Fact Sheet  External Link Factsheet on Smokeless Tobacco- provides brief answers to some of the most common questions regarding smokeless tobacco.

Mayo Clinic, Chewing tobacco: Not a risk-free alternative to cigarettes External Link Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms. Learn the different types of smokeless tobacco and the health risk associated with being a user.

Red Ribbon Week is the last full week of October

Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity to raise awareness and mobilize communities to combat tobacco, alcohol, and drug use among Soldiers and Retirees, their families, Army civilians and contractors.  It is now the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of young people.  The exact dates that Red Ribbon Week are celebrated may vary among organizations.

What programs are available?

Each year the military services promote Red Ribbon Week activities to support efforts to keep service members and their families drug-free. The DOD and Army have developed a number of educational programs to raise awareness of substance abuse and disorders.
DOD's Quit Tobacco. Make Everyone Proud External Link tobacco cessation campaign is available online to Soldiers and Retirees, their families, Army civilians and contractors. Users can log-on to develop a personalized quitting plan, play games and chat on-line with a cessation counselor.
The "That Guy" External Link social marketing campaign and interactive website targets 18-24 year old service members and features the embarrassing social consequences of alcohol abuse.
TRICARE Alcohol Awareness External Link
National Family Partnership External Link - The Best Me is Drug Free