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A new Defense Department virtual anti-smoking campaign targets junior enlisted personnel between the ages of 18 and 25.

"Quit Tobacco. Make Everyone Proud" is centered on an interactive Web site that allows users to develop a personal plan for quitting, keep an online journal, play online video games, create a buddy list for support, listen to podcasts, and communicate privately with trained cessation counselors, according to the Air Force.

The Web site was the topic of this week’s Airman’s Roll Call, which stated, in part:

"At this web site you can decide how you will quit, calculate how much you spend on tobacco per year, identify your tobacco use triggers and get the support you need to complete the process of quitting the use of tobacco."

Macro International, which developed the anti-tobacco campaign for DOD, said in an online document that "the challenge was to find a creative concept that motivated the audience and reinforced thoughts of quitting without being heard as criticism or implying personal or force weakness."

The campaign zeros in on tobacco users who want to quit for good, the company said.

The Web site, at www.ucanquit2.org, includes "Tobacco Tales" — success stories from people who have kicked the habit — and anonymous message boards.

Not everyone posting, however, appears interested in quitting. One person on Aug. 10 wrote: "Ain’t nothing like a good smoke. I think I will quit when I turn 30 but right now I am only 21 and I have a lot of life yet to live, and smoking is still a joy for me."

Some use the forum to vent: "I am so sick of smokers being treated like second-class citizens. Everywhere I go it’s banned. I am sorry it hurts people but I still like to do it ..."

Anyone can respond to the postings, and often, someone from the campaign does, offering support.

To the "ain’t nothing like a good smoke" writer, the advice was "9 years more of inhaling poisons from tobacco is a big mistake."

The Air Force has said the anti-tobacco campaign targets 702,000 junior enlisted personnel.

A DOD survey found that the prevalence of smoking among 18- to 25-year-olds in the military was significantly higher than their civilian counterparts.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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