Submarine Smoking Ban Announced
It looks like the potential ban on smoking aboard submarines we discussed last week is the real deal. According to this article at navy.mil, COMSUBFOR sent out a message announcing that smoking would be banned as of the end of the year. Excerpts:
The smoking ban, announced via naval message, will become effective no later than Dec. 31, 2010.Zyban and Chantix both apparently have some bad side effects like depression and suicidal ideation, so I can see why they wouldn't want submariners taking them, but I wonder if they did the studies with people taking the drug without quitting smoking at the same time. I imagine nicotine withdrawal could cause depression by itself.
The impetus behind the change of policy is the health risks to non-smokers, specifically exposure to secondhand smoke.
"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," said Vice Adm. John J. Donnelly, COMSUBFOR...
... Subsequent to the 2006 Surgeon General report, the Submarine Force chartered the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory to conduct a study on U.S. submarines. The study indicated that non-smoking Sailors were exposed to measurable levels of Environment Tobacco Smoke (ETS), also called secondhand smoke. The year-long study was conducted in 2009 on nine different submarines, including at least one from each class of submarines in the force.
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.