Navy Extends No Smoking to Submarines
Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) on April 8 announced the extension of the no smoking ban to below decks aboard all U.S. Navy submarines. The smoking ban will become effective no later than Dec. 31, 2010.
The change of policy recognizes the health risks of not only smoking, but of exposure to secondhand smoke. The 2006 Surgeon General's report on involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke stated there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing heart and lung disease.
Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, COMSUBFOR said, “Our Sailors are our most important asset to accomplishing our missions. Recent testing has proven that, despite our atmosphere purification technology, there are unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmosphere of a submerged submarine. The only way to eliminate risk to our non-smoking Sailors is to stop smoking aboard our submarines."
In conjunction with the policy change, cessation assistance to Sailors is being offered. The program will incorporate education techniques and nicotine replacement therapy, such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum, to assist in kicking the smoking habit. In keeping with current submarine policy, drugs such as Zyban and Chantix are not authorized.
"To help smokers minimize the effects of quitting, nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum, will be readily available along with an extensive cessation training and support program on every boat. What we want to discourage is smokers turning to alternative methods of tobacco use such a chewing tobacco," said Capt. Mark Michaud, Submarine Force Atlantic surgeon.
"While submarine duty is a dynamic and demanding job, the Submarine Force is dedicated to mitigating unnecessary risks to our Sailors. Exposure to a harmful substance that is avoidable, such as secondhand smoke, is unfair to those who choose not to smoke," said Donnelly.
In the past, smoking had been confined to certain areas on the submarine. Individual submarine commanders will still be allowed to decide if crew members are permitted to smoke on deck.