An Air Force Instruction that went into effect March 26 will not only prohibit smoking in specific areas but also the chewing, dipping and sniffing of tobacco. Also prohibited are pipes and electronic or e-cigarettes.
To this point, Robins Air Force Base officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the new restrictions and how they are being implemented.
Under the new requirement, all Air Force hospitals and clinics are tobacco free, including no smoking within 200 feet of the facility’s parking lot, lawn or any contiguous area.
Other designated smoking areas on the base must be at least 50 feet removed from building entrances and exits, sidewalks and parking lots or 100 feet from playgrounds.
Installations are being given up to 18 months to fully implement the new directives at hospitals and clinics. Base commanders will determine the timeframe for other facilities on base, including recreation centers and dormitories, to be impacted.
Lt. Col. John Oh, chief of health promotion for the Air Force Medical Services Agency, told The Air Force Times that tobacco consumption and related ailments cost the Defense Department nearly $2 billion each year in medical bills.
“Tobacco use is really a mission-readiness issue,” Oh told The Times. “It’s associated with decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and decreased endurance.”
The goal, according to the Air Force Instruction, is to create a tobacco-free environment on all Air Force installations.