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TRICARE Expands Assistance to Reduce Tobacco Use

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By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

The Defense Department is committed to helping troops, their families and all beneficiaries of the TRICARE health care plan reduce their reliance on tobacco products, a TRICARE official said here today.

During an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel, Paul Fitzpatrick, TRICARE’s “Quit Tobacco” program manager, said TRICARE has increased tobacco cessation aid for beneficiaries.

Tobacco cessation medications and prescription medications now are available to TRICARE patients through military treatment facilities, pharmacies, and TRICARE’s mail-order pharmacy program.

“And we’re very excited to be able to offer these cessation aids to help people quit smoking [and] quit dipping,” Fitzpatrick said.

A Code of Federal Regulations final rule, effective March 29, authorizes the health care organization to implement a more comprehensive program.

“The DOD is committed to creating and maintaining a healthy fighting force,” Fitzpatrick said. “We know that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines use tobacco at a higher rate than the American public.”

Fitzpatrick, who is a retired Army officer, noted that troops’ tobacco use is at a 5- to 10-percent higher rate than that of the public, depending on the age demographic.

“TRICARE estimates that over $500 million are devoted to tobacco-related illnesses and diseases. And those are not just the long-term illnesses like cancer and emphysema. It also includes the short-term consequences of tobacco use, which include an increased number of sick days and longer healing time for those who are smokers and dippers, he said.

“With promotion of a healthier lifestyle, we expect that more people will want to quit smoking,” Fitzpatrick said.

TRICARE now offers Zyban and Chantix, Fitzpatrick said, as well as a whole host of nicotine replacement therapies, including traditional patches, gums, lozenges, nasal spray and inhalers, which now are available through prescription at no cost to the TRICARE beneficiary.

“The development of access to pharmaceutical drugs has been in the works for a couple of years now,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are adding these medications to our host of cessation resources that TRICARE has had in place for a number of years.”

Tobacco cessation medications are available to all beneficiaries age 18 and older in the continental United States. “The prescription medications are currently not available through the mail-order pharmacy overseas, but may be available through the military treatment facility pharmacy, if they carry [them],” Fitzpatrick said.

TRICARE’s tobacco cessation aids also include a 24/7 chat service via instant messaging, toll-free telephone coaching assistance available around the clock, and face-to-face counseling with a certified tobacco cessation counselor that can arranged through a primary care provider.

“Tobacco cessation is very important to the Department of Defense, because we are looking to build and maintain a healthier fighting force,” he said. “And we know that tobacco use is a negative indicator to a healthy force. The DOD wants to be, not a follower, but a leader in reducing tobacco use in the military.”

Fitzpatrick also talked about Operation “Live Well,” DOD’s holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle and healthy living.

“It addresses not only tobacco cessation, but [also] the challenges and threats [of] obesity among our fighting force and our family members, as well as good nutrition,” he said. “Operation Live Well is a program that looks at the entire person and their healthy lifestyle.”

Related Sites:
TRICARE Tobacco Cessation
Quit Tobacco, Make Everybody Proud
Operation Live Well

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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