The Department of Defense has raised the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21 years of age, effective Aug. 1, 2020.
Starting Aug. 1, 2020, it will be unlawful for any U.S. Army retail outlet to sell tobacco products, including electronic nicotine delivery systems, to any person younger than 21 years of age.
This applies to Department of Defense commissaries, Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation and Army and Air Force Exchange Services retail outlets on U.S. Army installations and facilities in the United States and its territories and possessions.
White Sands Missile Range facilities will begin displaying posters announcing the new policy starting July 1, 2020.
"Military operations are physically demanding. Healthy forces are better prepared to execute their mission and win under stressful conditions in any environment," said WSMR Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Robert L. Parker II.
According to the policy, retail outlets outside of the United States and its territories and possessions may sell tobacco products to persons as allowed by the laws of the host country, but may not sell them to anyone under 18 years of age, if such sales do not contradict international laws or treaties to which the United States is a party.
Installation Management Command Directorates and Garrison will implement the guidance to enforce the minimum age for the sale of tobacco products and encourage Service Members to seek appropriate medical counseling and treatment should they attempt to quit tobacco product use.
Lt. Col. Maria T. Pescatore, Deputy Commander for Nursing at McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic, said McAfee has two social workers available to assist those seeking assistance to quit.
Those who seek assistance can call (575) 674-3500 for more information or to make an appointment at McAfee U.S. Army Health Clinic if they are an active duty Service Member, retiree, family member or DoD civilian employee.
In addition, William Beaumont Army Medical Center has a formal Tobacco Cessation Program. Pescatore said classes will be opening again starting July 7, 2020. It is a 4-week program, and they have pharmacists on staff that assist with prescribing nicotine replacement therapy to include nicotine patches and gum.
The program is open to active duty Service Members, dependents and DoD civilians.
However, the government does not cover the cost of prescriptions for civilians.
Fort Bliss also offers a Tobacco Cessation Program. For more information, call (915) 742-1343.
Their program is open to active duty Service Members, retirees, family members and DoD civilian employees. Medications and nicotine replacement therapy is provided if appropriate.
In addition, the Office of Personnel Management has a link with information for civilians under Federal Employee Health Benefits who want to quit tobacco. Those interested can visit the site at https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/special-initiatives/quit-smoking/.
OPM views the health benefits offered through the FEHB program as an investment in the health of federal employees, retirees and their families.