IDF continues efforts to reduce smoking

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The IDF (Zahal)’s ongoing educational activities and workshops to help soldiers quit smoking are credited with the downward trend in smoking among soldiers

Date: 06/02/2013, 6:20 PM     Author: Rotem Pesso

As many institutions around the world marked World No Tobacco Day on Friday (May 31), the IDF (Zahal) continued with its year-round efforts to encourage its soldiers to quit smoking, including educational programs and anti-smoking workshops.

While the rate of smoking in the IDF (Zahal) is still higher than leaders would prefer, the figures point to a consistent downward trend – a pattern that is being attributed to the IDF (Zahal)’s intensive efforts to decrease smoking among its soldiers.

The IDF (Zahal) holds year-round workshops throughout Israel designed to help soldiers quit smoking, with great success. In the third quarter of 2012, 160 soldiers participated in these workshops, roughly 80 percent of whom said the workshops contributed to their quitting smoking.

Educational materials regarding the dangers of smoking are also available at all IDF (Zahal) infirmaries, and many units hold health education sessions in which they encourage soldiers to quit smoking.

Chief Warrant Officer Eitan Amuyal, assistant to the Central Command’s medical officer, has been involved in preventive medicine throughout his career. Since 2006, he has run highly successful private and group workshops to help smokers quit smoking, as well as personal counseling sessions to help senior officers quit. In the past two years, he has run a dozen workshops, helping roughly 150 soldiers to quit smoking.

“I come from the field of preventive medicine, and I personally used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day,” he said. “I chose to start helping others quit this nasty habit. I underwent training with the Ministry of Health through the IDF (Zahal) and started to construct workshops.”

During these workshops, which include between six and eight meetings, CWO Amuyal works closely with the participants. The workshops also include medical treatment so as to prevent symptoms of withdrawal and to ease the process of quitting.

“They undergo a process of increasing awareness of the dangers of smoking, gaining control of smoking, breaking the habit and [overcoming] withdrawal symptoms,” CWO Amuyal explained.

The success rates of the workshops are measured at the conclusion of the workshop and a year later. The former statistics point to a 95 percent success rate.