Tobacco-Free Living & Vaping

Last Updated: May 17, 2021
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​Tobacco use in the Army is a high-profile issue and has a direct impact upon a person's ability to accomplish their mission, whether that be as a military member, DOD Civilian, Army employee, family member, or retiree. The short-term impacts of tobacco use on readiness include increased numbers of sick call visits and increased incidence of cold weather and training injuries.  In addition, there are the well-known long-term health hazards of tobacco use, to include reduced lung capacity, reduced fine motor coordination, slower wound healing, and greatly decreased stamina. In addition, tobacco use is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and diseases of the blood vessels. Tobacco use also causes cancer of the lung, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.


Since tobacco use is both a readiness and a health issue, it is important to provide effective interventions to become Tobacco Free.  Tobacco-Free Living benefits the military community as a whole because tobacco-free individuals are stronger, healthier, and better able to perform their mission and responsibilities.  Being tobacco-free also benefits each person by giving them an opportunity to maintain a healthier lifestyle and decrease the health risks associated with tobacco use.  Tobacco-Free Living initiatives implemented across the enterprise support a tobacco-free community and promote the health and personal readiness of military personnel, family members, retirees, employees, and patients/patrons on MEDCOM campuses.


Article highlighting the risks of oral cancer with the signs and symptoms of oral cancer from experts at Army Public Health Center. 


In recognition of the long-term harm caused by early onset tobacco use, legislation was signed in December 2019 amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raising the federal minimum age for sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. This legislation, known as Tobacco 21 or T21, makes it unlawful for any retailer to sell tobacco products — including cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco, electronic nicotine delivery systems including e-cigarettes and e-liquids to any person younger than 21 years of age, with no military exemption. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense policy makes it unlawful for any retail outlet on DoD installations and facilities within the U.S. and its territories and possessions, and on U.S. naval vessels at a U.S. port, to sell tobacco products, effective on 1 August 2020. The directive requires retail outlets to post signs no later than 1 July 2020 to inform patrons of this policy change, and to stock "sufficient quantities of tobacco cessation products," such as nicotine gum and lozenges designed to help smokers curb their cravings.

Check out the TFL Education for Individuals webpage to find out how your benefits can support you TFL efforts!

Army regulation calls for the full cooperation of all commanders, supervisors, Soldiers, Army Civilians, Family members, and patrons to ensure people are protected from the harmful effects of tobacco products. The Army Surgeon General's role through MEDCOM TFL OPORD 15-48 directs MEDCOM tobacco-free medical campuses and promotes Tobacco Free Living workforces to create irreversible momentum to transform Army culture from tobacco permissive to tobacco free.

OPORD 15-48External Link, MEDCOM Tobacco Free Living (CAC required)

Learn more about how to be tobacco free in these Tobacco-Free Living Toolkit web pages.

Vaping & Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) refers to all types of personal vaporizers, Juuls, vape pens, and vape mods. They can contain just as much or even more nicotine than tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarette cartridges (e-liquids) or oils may also contain harmful products and are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a smoking-cessation aid.

Toxicological assessment of electronic cigarette vaping: an emerging threat to force health, readiness and resilience in the U.S. Army: This article by the Army Public Health Center analyzes the potential adverse health effects from vaping E-cigarettes and regulatory policies governing their use.