New step advances 'tobacco-free Air Force' initiative

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U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Chad Strohmeyer
U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Senior Airman Chad Strohmeyer

New step advances 'tobacco-free Air Force' initiative

by: Senior Airman Alexis Siekert, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs | .
published: May 11, 2013

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Osan is taking the next step to be a tobacco-free installation. Effective May 31, all current designated tobacco areas will no longer be sanctioned under the updated Air Force Instruction 40-102, Tobacco Use in the Air Force.

According to a memorandum signed by the 51st Fighter Wing commander, Col. Patrick McKenzie, while there are many existing designated tobacco areas around the base, none will be automatically grandfathered under this new program. Any existing area the organization or facility manager wishes to retain as a DTA will require a request package be submitted to the 51st Medical Group Health and Wellness Center. Currently, the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron has mapped out 13 possible locations on base that fit the criteria, but they will not be authorized without the application submission.

Should organizations or facility managers wish to submit requests for a DTA, they must comply with AFI 40-102, include plans for funding, maintenance and cleanliness, and submit requests by May 15 to be considered for approval by May 31. Additional requests may also be submitted after May 31.

In the past, the tobacco-use rules were relaxed, explained Capt. Mari Metzler, 51st MDG aerospace and operational physiologist flight commander, Health and Wellness Center. The new regulations are designed to encourage people to quit smoking and promote public health for non-smokers.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, the AFI states. Tobacco use degrades the state of military readiness and the health of military personnel. Commanders and leaders should strive for tobacco-free Air Force installations and decrease supportive environments for tobacco use.

Tobacco includes, but is not limited to, cigars, cigarettes, electronic-cigarettes ("e-cigarettes"), stem pipes, water pipes, hookahs, and smokeless products that are chewed, dipped, or sniffed.

"This is a rule; it's not an option," Metzler said. "Those who do not comply will be in violation of AFI 40-103 and are subject to punishment under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice."

The memorandum states that all who observe non-compliant behavior are empowered to inform the individual of this guidance memorandum. Willful disobedience may be brought to immediate supervisors for follow up.

"We realize we can't kick smokers off base, but this could be inconvenient enough to be their nudge to quit," she said.

To help with quitting, the HAWC will be offering more tobacco cessation classes.

"Smoking cessations is a one-stop shop to help you get on the road to a smoke-free life," Metzler said. "In the two-hour course, offered twice a month, participants receive behavioral counseling, and if they chose, a medication prescription by our medical provider."

For more information on request packages or to reserve a spot in a tobacco cessation class, contact the Osan AB Health and Wellness Center at 784-1830, or by email at

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