UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - UKNSCC
2009 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference - London more...

Smoking cessation in the British Armed Forces
Annie Owen, Armed Forces Smoking Cessation Co-ordinator, HM Armed Forces, UK


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Annie Owen

The Defense Medical Services (DMS) are committed to improving health and wellbeing, with a wide-ranging health promotion programme, including smoking cessation (SC). Since 2002 there have been a number of joint SC initiatives between the DH and the Armed Forces, initially with an Army SC pilot, followed by a 3-Year DH/MOD Joint Project, involving the Royal Navy, Army and Dental Defense Service.

In 2008 DMS signed up to a Service Level Agreement with the DH to develop links and share relevant best SC practice from the military and civilian context. UK based military smoking cessation services submit quarterly quit data to local PCTs as a contribution to PSA targets.

A current partnership initiative is developing a referral mechanism to encourage AF smokers making a quit attempt to engage their civilian contacts to also stop smoking by being referred to the local NHS stop smoking services. Elements will be piloted first, but pending successful outcomes, the intention is that it will become a national initiative.

Smoking Cessation in the Armed Forces has included implementing the bespoke/flexible military SC clinic model developed during the pilot project, mainstreaming SC provision across the Armed Forces and exploring new initiatives to address problem areas within the military environment. Many military smokers are from routine and manual backgrounds both by trade and recruitment location, with large numbers of young, basically fit, predominantly male personnel. Targeting these ‘hard to reach groups’ within a ‘hard to reach population’ (the military) is challenging but we have been able to demonstrate that military personnel can stop smoking successfully. Smoking prevalence in the military has been reduced by 10% over the past decade.


About the presenter
Annie Owen qualified as a Registered Nurse and worked in general medicine, orthopedics and ITU for a number of years, gaining her DipN and then specialising in bone tumour work. She also served for 15 years with the Territorial Army finishing her time as Deputy Matron of a Field Hospital.

Annie is married to an Army Medical Officer, and as a result of the military ‘nomadic’ lifestyle, worked in primary care at several military establishments, where she developed an interest in health promotion. Annie was appointed as the Smoking Cessation Coordinator in 2001, overseeing the DOH/MOD Army SC Pilot Project, which was then expanded into a combined 3-Year Project in 2004. Using evidence from the project the MOD policy banning smoking in public spaces was implemented in December 2006, ahead of the English legislation.

In 2008 Annie became the Armed Forces Smoking Cessation Co-coordinator working with all three military Services. She also works closely with No Smoking Day (NSD) to facilitate Military NSD campaigns running alongside the national campaigns. In October 2008, Annie was the joint team leader for the inaugural Military and Civilian Partnership Awards, heading up the winning entry for ‘Team of the Year’.

Summing up smoking cessation provided within the military environment, Annie maintains that the energy, the ‘can do’ mentality and preparedness to working in a flexible way with partners, enabling differing traditions to come together and overcome obstacles, are key to providing successful smoking cessation support to military personnel, wherever they are serving.


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