Submarines Create Fresh Starts Across Groton Waterfront
GROTON, Conn. - With the 35th national Great American Smokeout approaching, submarines assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 2 (CSG2) have implemented smoking cessation programs to assist Sailors as they make a fresh start before the force-wide policy deadline of Dec. 31.
The change in policy resulted after extensive research revealed the significant exposure to second-hand smoke for all hands within the self-contained environment of submarines at sea.
Since the April 8 announcement, Submarine Force leadership has been educating and training their Sailors so their submarines can beat or meet the deadline.
Implementation of smoking cessation programs within CSG2 were headed by the submarine’s commanding officers with the assistance of the CSG2 Medical Officer, Cmdr. Jeff McClellen, and Groton’s Naval Branch Health Clinic.
According to McClellen, the program requires that the commanding officers identify volunteer facilitators who address individual Sailor concerns, and the independent duty corpsmen aboard the submarine who control and issue smoking cessation products, such as patches and gum, to those who need them.
Aboard USS Springfield (SSN 761), the cessation program started Sept. 9, and the Los Angeles-class submarine removed its smoking area Oct. 12.
“The program is voluntary,” said Master Chief Culinary Specialist Scott Brody, Springfield’s Chief of the Boat. “We passed the word to the entire crew and had 16 volunteers. Of those, almost all are smoke free or still in the program. It’s harder for some people to quit, so having a support system in place is a really good thing and helps out a lot.”
Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class William Anderson, Springfield’s smoking cessation facilitator, also volunteered his support.
“I have a lot of friends and family who smoke who I would like to see quit,” he said. “I just wanted to help my friends.”
Anderson said that Springfield’s program is a slightly modified version of the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program. They hold weekly meetings, usually on Thursdays, with a makeup session for those who can’t attend.
“During these sessions,” he said, “we discuss ways to deal with cravings, successes during the last week, and challenges that may come up.”
Even though the American Cancer Society’s Freshstart program is only four weeks, Springfield members are always welcome to attend the meetings, and are encouraged and monitored for a total of 12 weeks.
According to the society, Freshstart is designed to help employees plan a successful quit attempt by providing essential information, skills for coping with cravings, and group support.
Chief Electronics Technician Kelly Roberts, Springfield’s Assistant Navigator, is a member of the program.
“For me, the program is working,” Roberts said. “It’s been somewhat easy, being underway and not having tobacco. Since we’ve been back it’s been harder, passing the smoke pit on the pier every day. So, I just point my nose toward the boat and just go.”
As a recovering smoker, Roberts passed along a bit of advice.
“For those who are just starting or undergoing the program, stick with it and don’t give up,” he said. “If you start the program, stick with the program and show up to the meetings. It is actually very helpful to learn from other’s experiences and get support from everybody else.”
In addition to Springfield, USS Virginia (SSN 774) and USS Hartford (SSN 768), both undergoing shipyard maintenance periods, have removed their on board smoking areas.