Less smoking corners, more detoxification workshops and a campaign to raise awareness: The Medical Corps takes new steps to reduce the number of smokers in the IDF (Zahal). “When the soldiers understand that cigarettes are poisonous, they’ll stop smoking.”
As part of the awareness campaign for the risks of smoking, the Medical Corps presented a series of steps designed to reduce tobacco use among IDF (Zahal) soldiers.
“In cooperation with the IDF (Zahal) Manpower Directorate, the Medical Corps and the Israel Cancer Association, we built a general IDF (Zahal) program,” says Maj. Oshrat, head of the Health Promotion Division in the Israel Defense Forces.
“The program is built on three pillars,” she adds. “The first is raising awareness of the damages caused by smoking by campaigning and lecturing on the subject as a part of IDF (Zahal) training. In the lectures, we’ll explain the immediate damages caused by smoking, and not just the risks that may appear later in life – which is discussed less frequently.”
The goal: to reduce secondhand smoke.
“The second pillar focuses on the process and its enforcement,” continues Maj. Oshrat. “It states that soldiers can smoke only in the designated corners. According to the new laws that are due to take effect soon, the smoking areas will be relocated far from building entrances and gathering places. The goal is to prevent secondhand smoke and reduce the amount of soldiers that begin smoking during their service. “
In addition to the educational aspect, the IDF (Zahal) plans to take practical measures action against this addiction. According to Maj. Oshrat, a smoker who doesn’t comply with the new laws may be punished: “In the coming weeks, smoking outside the designated smoking area will be criminalized, and the military police will issue reports to soldiers who break the rule.”
“The third pillar,” Maj. Oshrat says, “will focus on quitting smoking. For several years, smoking cessation workshops have been open to all IDF (Zahal) soldiers at no cost, and this year we’ve doubled the number of workshops, so that 60 rehabilitation workshops will be open to soldiers. ”
In order to meet these goals, the IDF (Zahal) will conduct periodic inspections during the year: “We’ll conduct surveys in which we’ll examine the percentage of smokers who enlist in the IDF (Zahal) against the percentage of discharged smokers.
“The key is awareness,” concludes Maj. Oshrat. “It’s understanding that a cigarette is a poison that can kill you. Once the soldier understands this, he’ll stop smoking himself.”