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.
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.