American Lung Association Welcomes Final TRICARE Rule on Smoking Cessation
Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2013)
Statement of the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association applauds the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) release of the final rule that will ensure those in TRICARE, the health insurance program for military personnel, families and retirees, will have access to an evidence-based, comprehensive smoking cessation benefit. This rule will provide millions under TRICARE with the tools and support they need to quit using tobacco, the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. This rule ensures access to FDA approved medications for smoking cessation and all forms of counseling. Reducing tobacco use will save lives, money and increase military readiness.
Tobacco use in the military is a serious problem, resulting in $1.6 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. Currently, the smoking rate for active duty military is 30.5 percent, with smoking rates highest among personnel ages 18 to 25. Tobacco use compromises military readiness and the performance of our men and women in the armed forces. Studies have found that smoking is one of the best predictors of training failure, and increases a soldier’s chances of physical injury and hospitalization.
In our “State of Tobacco Control 2013” report, the American Lung Association highlighted the need for DoD to move forward with issuing a final TRICARE rule to ensure increased cessation coverage. The rule was initially proposed in September of 2011. In November 2011, the Lung Association both individually and with our partners filed comments urging the Department of Defense to move forward with implementing the comprehensive cessation benefit it proposed for TRICARE members. The American Lung Association commends the DoD for this new rule as an important step in this direction and looks forward to working with DoD in continuing to expand access to these benefits to all men and women in service.
In 2009, the prestigious Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report titled, Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations. The medical panel found that “tobacco control does not have a high priority in DoD or VA.” This report, which was requested by both departments, issued a series of recommendations. The IOM recommendations include commonsense approaches to eliminating the use of tobacco in the U.S. military. The American Lung Association urges the DoD to move forward with all of the IOM’s recommendations to reduce the terrible burden caused by tobacco use in the military.