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What Causes Marines to Start Using Tobacco?

When you entered bootcamp you were tobacco-free. Do you remember what led you to start using tobacco regularly? Over 79% of Active-duty Marines who use tobacco report that they use it to calm down, relax, or relieve stress, but there is a little more to the story.

Addiction to tobacco is made up of specific components – physical dependence on nicotine and behavior patterns resulting from that dependence. There is also a psychological component, as some Marines use tobacco to cope with difficult emotions or to soothe themselves when they’re feeling stressed or tired. Let’s examine the three types of behavior patterns found through tobacco use:


Using tobacco is a learned behavior. You did not pick it up and become instantly hooked. You gradually learned to puff correctly, blow smoke rings, and associate smoking with certain emotions. You learned to dip when you were stressed, bored, angry and even happy. Think about when you use dip or cigarettes. Is it before a meeting or while watching TV? It’s important to know what causes you to reach for tobacco so that you can stop yourself from doing it in the future. Quitting tobacco and staying tobacco free is a learning process. According to the American Cancer Society, the average tobacco user makes 5-7 quit attempts before quitting for good.


Something triggers you to crave a cigarette or dip. It may be when you drink your morning coffee, after you eat, or when you report for duty and realize you have not smoked that second cigarette or had a pinch of dip.


The use of tobacco without thinking about it can develop into an automatic behavior over time. Have you ever found yourself using tobacco without even realizing it?

Now that you know behavior patterns formed through tobacco use, it’s time to break these bad habits. Beginning in January 2017, the Semper Fit Health Promotion Program is offering a new tobacco cessation program called Operation Tobacco-Free Marine. The program consists of group classes and support resources to help you quit tobacco. It may take a couple of times before you’re tobacco-free, but just as you learned to be a tobacco user, you can also learn the strategies to help you quit for good.

For more information on Operation Tobacco-Free Marine, contact your local Semper Fit Health Promotion office.

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