Medical group implements smoke-free campus

  • Published
  • By Col. Michael Burke
  • 21st Medical Group commander
Fellow Airmen, welcome to absolutely wonderful time of year in Colorado and for our nation. Especially with the World Series upon us, football kicking off, cooling temps, chili in the crock...and yet again all eyes on America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, pushing toward another Super Bowl ring! What a great time of year to recharge our resiliency batteries!

Another great thing about fall is the occurrence of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout which will be hosted on Nov. 15. The goal of the Smokeout is for all smokers to develop a plan and embark on a smoke-free life. Our goal is for all members of Teams Pete and Schriever and our patient population to commit to a healthy lifestyle free of tobacco use -- and we're targeting all forms of tobacco products including smoke-free products (i.e. dip, chew, chaw, etc.).

Tobacco use is simply not consistent with a fit, healthy and AOR-ready force. U.S. Centers for Disease Control data indicates that lost duty time from smoking alone amounts to more than 3,500 full-time equivalent staff-member losses in the Air Force per year. Put into context, this would equate to one out of every three Peterson AFB staff members not with us today due to tobacco-related health issues. Further, smoking is linked to reduced physical endurance, impaired night vision, and compromised wound/injury healing.

This year, your 21st Medical Group is making a significant commitment and taking a significant leap forward in an effort to curb tobacco use -- and we're excited about it. On Nov. 15, concurrent with the Great American Smokeout, we'll convert the Peterson and Schriever medical/dental campuses to tobacco-free environments. This includes all parking lots and walkways that provide access to our clinics and the green space immediately surrounding all of our buildings. Before long, you'll notice signs as you approach our buildings that address this change and celebrate what it means for all of us. So please, help us make this momentous change and do not bring tobacco products onto the medical campus when you come for a visit after Nov. 15.

Our aim is to promote healthy lifestyles that instill positive long-term health conditions while also ensuring our patients, visitors and staff are treated and come to work in an environment that is free of tobacco use and harmful second-hand smoke.

Further, we want to help tobacco users divorce themselves from this powerful addiction and their dysfunctional relationship with tobacco. I ask all tobacco users to please consider this very clear reality -- tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Please schedule an appointment with your provider or visit us in the HAWC to discuss healthy alternatives and various means we have to help you move away from tobacco use and toward a healthier future.

The men and women of the 21st Medical Group thank you for entrusting us with your is a true privilege to take care of you. We are thrilled about our upcoming conversion to a tobacco-free environment and hope you too see it as another step forward to a healthier future for all of us.