Smoking reduction

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the UK, with a mortality rate of 78,000 people every year, and contributes to musculoskeletal injury, the most common cause of discharge in the Armed Forces.

The Royal Navy is Tobacco Free

On 31st August 2021 the Royal Navy went completely Tobacco Free. This means that smoking and the use of all tobacco products is not permitted anywhere in the Defence working environment, which is the entire Defence estate by default. The policy is Whole Force and includes all Defence personnel, contractors, visitors and other non-MoD personnel.

Vaping will be permitted, in designated areas only, to help you to stop smoking during the roll-out of the smoke-free policy. For RN Sea going units this means that only vaping will be allowed on-board ships and submarines, whilst alongside, and at sea, in designated areas.

It is expected that the Defence and RN policy on Vaping may change by 2025 as research and guidance is released by Public Health England.

All RN Personnel are encouraged to quit smoking; Smoking Cessation services are available through the Med Centres (Military Personnel) and the NHS (Civilians and Contractors).

RNAS Yeovilton tobacco free banner on railing, with person in a stubbed cigarette mascot costume standing on the right side

Stop smoking now

And the benefits are clear

Quitting smoking has positive effects from the first day you stop

  • After 20 minutes, your pulse rate will normalise
  • After 8 hours, harmful carbon monoxide will half and your oxygen levels recover
  • After 48 hours, all carbon monoxide is gone, lungs are clearing and your taste and smell improve
  • After 72 hours, breathing is easier and your energy levels are increasing
  • After two to 12 weeks, your circulation improves, pumping blood through your heart and muscles much better

The importance of quitting

Smoking is a major factor in many musculoskeletal injuries such as back, neck and arm pains, as well as strains and even diseases of the joints.

Physical conditions triggered and aggravated by smoking are not where the problems stop either, with it also contributing to low aerobic fitness, flexibility and strength.

Employees smoking also has financial implications for Defence. Smokers are, on average, absent from work 2.7 days more per year compared to non-smokers, and those who have succeeded in stopping smoking.

group of personnel with stubbed out cigarette mascot and quit smoking prop

Help and support

Do you get access to Military Healthcare?

Contact your local Medical Centre for Stop Smoking Support or

visit NHS Smokefree

Are you Civilian Staff or a Contractor?

Contact your local GP for help to quit smoking or

visit NHS Smokefree


Samaritans works with the Ministry of Defence and other charities to support serving personnel in the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. Visit their website or use their free 24-hour helpline providing a safe place to talk about anything that is bothering you.

116 123

Combat Stress

The UK’s leading mental health charity for all serving military personnel and veterans, and to families and friends that may have concerns. Visit their website or use their free 24-hour helpline offering confidential advice and support for stress, anxiety, and depression.

0800 323 4444


Providing advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Visit their website or use Mind’s Infoline provides an information and signposting service. Open 09:00 – 18:00, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).


0300 123 3393


A safe anonymous online community providing you with mental health support and advice for coping with the stresses of everyday life. Visit their website or use their free 24-hour online service where you can talk to people, who feel like you; whilst guided by trained professionals.

[email protected]

Every Mind Matters

Looking after your mental health. Offering expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Visit Every Mind Matters website

NHS Better Health

Whether you want to lose weight, get active or quit smoking, Better Health offers lots of free tools and support to make healthier choices.

Visit the NHS website