Defense Department Acts to Help Troops and Families Quit Smoking

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Feb. 28 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Defense has taken strong action to support our nation's troops and their families in tough battles against tobacco addiction.

The Defense Department issued final regulations implementing a law that established a smoking cessation program under TRICARE, the health insurance program for military personnel, retirees and their families. The regulations provide coverage for FDA-approved smoking cessation medications and counseling. Beneficiaries will also have access to a toll-free quit line 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking rates are even higher in the military. The Defense Department reports the smoking rate for active duty military is 30.5 percent, with smoking rates highest among personnel ages 18 to 25. Tobacco use costs the military $1.6 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity.

We commend the Defense Department for providing this important benefit that will save lives, reduce health care costs and improve military readiness.

 

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