Tobacco comes in a variety of forms, from chewing tobacco, cigars, pipes, hookah, heat not burn products, vaping, nicotine pouches, and cigarettes…, then add all the various flavors and marketing, and methods to consume it. Add service members across the DoD and what do you get? A recipe for a health disaster and a question of military readiness!

While many recognize the consequences in a long term view, such as lung cancer and increased risk of a heart attack and stroke, what about short term affects?

“Service members who smoke or use tobacco products may also experience some loss of concentration and withdrawal symptoms as the effects of nicotine wear off,” says Dr. Mark Long, Public Health Educator at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center.

The nicotine in any tobacco product readily absorbs into the blood when a person uses it. Upon entering the blood, nicotine immediately stimulates the adrenal glands to release the hormone epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine stimulates the central nervous system and increases blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate. This includes smokeless tobacco products as well.

“Smokeless tobacco is also not safe as some people replace or use this in addition to smoking because it may be easier to use in certain locations,” Dr. Long says.

Smokeless tobacco products contain a variety of potentially harmful chemicals, including high levels of Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs). There are also other cancer-causing agents in smokeless tobacco, such as polonium-210 (a radioactive element) and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These carcinogens are absorbed through the mouth and may be why several types of cancer are linked to the use of smokeless tobacco.

Dr. Long adds, ““There are many resources and tools available to our service members who wish to quit smoking and tobacco use.”

Some of the recommended resources he cites are:






NMCPHC Tobacco Free Living (offers Tobacco Free Living Resources)


“If a service member wants to quit, I would always encourage their effort,” says Long, “and regardless of the type, quantity, or duration I also believe it’s never too late to quit!”

The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) develops and shapes public health for the U.S. Navy and Marines Corps through health surveillance, epidemiology and analysis, disease and injury prevention, and public health consultation. Learn more by going to www.nmcphc.med.navy.mil. Follow NMCPHC on social media at https://www.facebook.com/NavyAndMarineCorpsPublicHealthCenter http://twitter.com/nmcphc and https://www.instagram.com/nmcphc/

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