Not the usual tobacco article

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kenneth W. Norman
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
We have all read the usual tobacco cessation articles telling us to quit using tobacco because of the numerous detrimental effects it has on our health. I will do my best throughout this piece to not be the nagging echo of such stories.

Many tobacco users believe that tobacco use relieves their stress. In reality it actually increases it.

According to a recent article published on the Department of Defense's tobacco cessation website, tobacco users feel normal after using nicotine, but stress levels rise in between smoke or chew breaks. Thus, tobacco users are constantly bouncing back and forth between feeling normal immediately after tobacco use and feeling increasingly stressed as the hours pass.

"Nicotine gives the impression of reducing stress because, for those addicted to nicotine, the experience of not having nicotine in their body is extremely stressful," said Cmdr. (Dr.) Aileen Buckler, a U.S. Public Health Service officer and chairman of the DOD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee.

Another way tobacco can cause stress has to do with social life. For example, imagine you are a single Airman and you have a date with a non-smoker or meet a non-smoker you are interested in. If the first thing that person notices about you is the stench of tobacco smoke or that your teeth are stained from tobacco use, then your first encounter may not lead to a second.

I am not preaching. I am a regular smokeless tobacco user and recently saw some photos which made me decide to try and change my ways. The photos I saw were of smokeless tobacco users that had to have portions of their jaws removed due to mouth cancer. Let me tell you, I love chew, but I love my looks even more. How attractive do you think you will be with half of your jaw gone?

Have you ever thought about how tobacco use could affect the Air Force mission?

Some recent studies have shown that tobacco use can have negative effects on night vision.

According to a USAF Special Report, AL-SR-1992-0002, "Night Vision Manual for the Flight Surgeon", written by Retired Col. Robert E. Miller II and Retired Col. Thomas J. Tredici, recent studies have reported that smokers have reduced mesopic vision when compared with nonsmokers.

Although the literature is somewhat confusing, smoking is discouraged for several reasons.

First, there is some evidence that it may degrade mesopic and night vision. Mesopic vision is a combination of photopic vision and scotopic vision in low but not quite dark lighting situations.

Second, tobacco smoke is a significant irritant for aircrew who wear contact lenses or for those with dry eyes.

Third, the effects of smoking withdrawal during long missions may be dangerous.

Finally, the chronic long-term effects of smoking are hazardous to overall health.

These are just some of the negative effects that tobacco can have on your health. I hope I was successful at not force feeding you the same facts you have heard time and time again.

If you decide that you would like to kick the habit, the Health and Wellness Center has information about the many resources available to you. The HAWC can be contacted at 481-5013.