The official blog of the Lung Institute.
A New Day for Veterans with Lung Disease
Veterans of the US Military are at a higher risk of lung disease than the general civilian population. A service-person can develop lung disease in many ways. Occupational lung disease can come from exposure to sand, dust, chemicals, metals in the air from exploded munitions, aeroallergens found in desert regions, and smoke from burn pits. However, one of the most common ways a veteran might develop a lung disease is smoking.
Facts about Smoking in the Military
During the WWII, the number of military people who smoked cigarettes was much higher than the civilian population. This proportion has dropped over the years, and in the early 2000s, the percentage of service people that smoked was in line with the general public. However, according to Tobacco Free Kids, as of 2011, there are large disparities when comparing each branch as well. Here is the breakdown by percentage of smokers by service branch:
- Air Force: 16.7%
- Coast Guard: 19.9%
- Navy: 24.4%
- Army: 26.7%
- Marine Corp: 30.8%
This information is not surprising given that the majority of military personnel reported they smoke to relieve stress or relax. No branch of service is without stress, but the ones known for the most stressful and dangerous duties have a much higher rate of smoking.
Helping a Veteran Quit Smoking
People make decisions based on their own experiences. This is apparent in veterans, who have often faced a life or death scenario. Telling a veteran that they should quit smoking because it could kill them or harm them in anyway is not like telling a civilian the same thing. Showing a veteran images of lungs with cancer or of black lungs will also likely have little effect compared to what they’ve seen in combat. However, explaining the benefits of smoking cessation is a far more effective tool. Here are some great benefits to quitting smoking:
- You’ll be able to be more active, which means you’ll be able to do more outdoor activities and won’t get tired or winded so easily. Maybe you can pick up a sport or go fishing more often.
- You’ll save a ton of money. If you currently smoke about a pack a day, then you are paying about $6.20 a day, or $2,263 a year just to smoke.
- You won’t stink. It’s the truth; people who smoke don’t smell great. Their pores are clogged with oils and smoke.
- Your lungs will improve from the first day you quit smoking, and although it may seem like a long time before a payout, the health benefits become progressively better daily. Here is a breakdown of how your lungs improve post smoking cessation.
We have a responsibility to care for the women and men that selflessly protect us everyday. The Department of Veterans Affairs has some great information to help you work with a vet in your life to quit smoking.
If you or a loved one has quit, and you need help treating your lung disease, the Lung Institute may help. We use cells from your own body to help treat the debilitating nature of your lung disease. If you want to learn more, contact us by calling (800) 729-3065.