November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the third Thursday of November is also when the American Cancer Society promotes their annual Great American Smokeout — the one day a year where smokers across the nation can make a plan to quit … a step toward cancer risk reduction and a healthier lifestyle. This year’s smokeout is Nov. 16.
To raise tobacco cessation awareness and promote the Great American Smokeout, the 412th Medical Group will hold a base-wide scavenger hunt Nov. 13-16 with five clues directing participants to five sites. Prizes will go to the first five to complete the scavenger hunt. The first clue will be sent out via email and posted to the 412th MDG Facebook page (@412thmedicalgroup) Nov. 13.
Readiness is the 412th Medical Group Dental Clinic’s mission — to ensure every Airman is ready to fly, fight and win at any given moment. In order to achieve maximum readiness, all active duty members are seen for an annual dental exam and cleaning. During the exam, tobacco use is assessed, and if applicable, the patient is asked if he or she is aware of the associated risks. Cancer is a notable risk of tobacco, which can affect many areas of the body including the oral cavity. Therefore, an oral cancer screening is a vital part of every dental exam. In the dental clinic, tobacco use awareness is a topic of daily discussion, however, November is always a good time for a foot stomp.
No level of tobacco use is safe, including electronic cigarettes and/or vaping.
According to the National Cancer Institute, people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, have substantial gains in life expectancy compared with those who continue to smoke.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites tobacco use as the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. More than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking. One such illustration of disease, likely less known, is eye disease. Tobacco use is both the number one link to macular degeneration (leading cause of blindness) and the top cause of eye infection in the United States.
In December 2016, the World Health Organization reported the prevalence of combined adult cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use to be 17.3%. At Edwards AFB, the annual average for combined cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco was 16% and 14.1% for fiscal year 2016 and 2017; showcasing a 1.9 percent decrease among active duty.
For further perspective, the most recent monthly statistics for 2017 placed Edwards AFB 0.2 percent below the total active duty Air Force average for tobacco use. Increased awareness through 412th MDG programs and outreach, such as the tobacco cessation class run by Health Promotions manager, Eugene McClelland, certainly play a role in decreasing tobacco use across the installation. McClelland reported a 63 percent and 82 percent quit rate in 2016 and 2017 for participants who completed the Edwards AFB tobacco cessation class.
Tobacco cessation success across the wing is one statistic to be proud of, however, many other tobacco-related statistics deliver a more sobering impact. This month, the 412th MDG is honing in on statistics pertaining to the number 5. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 out of 5. Similarly, the American Lung Association reported every 5 minutes a woman in the U.S is told she has lung cancer, a leading cause of death among women.
Find the 5 clues to win a prize. Are you up for the challenge?
For more information the Great American Smokeout, please visit https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/great-american-smokeout.html. For information about the Tobacco Cessation Class, call 661-277-9427.
Editor’s note: Lt. Col. Richard Baird, 412th MDG optometrist; Capt. Coral Pettit, 412th MDG health care integrator; Master Sgt. Christina Harper, 412th MDG dental superintendent; Eugene McClelland, 412th Health Promotions manager; and Linda Davis 412th MDG Disease Management nurse contributed to this article.