CFB PETAWAWA, Ontario – For many years, smoking was considered a normal part of military life. But with more stringent regulations on smoking, many Canadian Forces smokers are choosing to quit. As they do so, they are looking to the CF for assistance in quitting.
The "I Quit" campaign encourages smokers to butt out for good on March 1. The campaign offers prizes and incentives to smokers and recent non-smokers to stay off cigarettes. The program is in its third year. Last year, 1 100 CF members took part in the program, and this year the goal is for 1 200 to sign up.
In conjunction with the Canadian Forces Exchange System (CANEX) and the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency (CFPSA), the "I Quit" program offers prizes such as $1 000 gift certificates, MP3 players and digital cameras.
To help with their "I Quit" commitment, members can take part in Butt Out, the smoking cessation program run year-round throughout the Canadian Forces. Butt Out provides support to CF members, their spouses and civilian employees of the Department of National Defence.
Participants in Butt Out attend 9 classes over 15 weeks, identifying the reasons they smoke and receiving help to not only quit smoking but to keep from starting up again. While some participants may experience better results than others, those who succeed in quitting are proud to tell about their experience.
"We're trying to build healthy and safe strategies for quitting smoking," says Christine McWillis, CFPSA Health Promotion Manager at CFB Petawawa. "Overall I think your chances of quitting increase significantly when you're in the Butt Out program."
"We hit the quit date which was September 26, 2001," said Corporal Robert Corbeil of 2nd Service Battalion. "Three and a half years later, I'm still a non-smoker."
PIC2RWhile the "I Quit" campaign and the Butt Out program both help members quit smoking, they all know their desire to quit is more important. "Just like anything else, if you're addicted, you have to want to quit," said Lieutenant Wyn Fournier of 2 Sevc Bn. "If you're not ready to quit, nothing is going to help you, no matter how good the program is."
CFPSA is even getting local school children involved with the "I Quit" campaign. Students from schools on base and the village of Petawawa made posters based on the theme "Why I Won't Smoke." The posters help promote the "I Quit" campaign and provide students with a chance to learn about the dangers of smoking.
For a newspaper article on smoking in the US military, please read the following: Troops & tobacco: A hard habit for America's soldiers to break.
Article and photos by Corporal Matt Bird