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thethinker42
04-25-2013, 07:30 PM
So I'm working on a scene involving a HALO jump, and I've got most of the details ironed out except for one. A few of the guys jumping are smokers. Everything I've read says the risk of hypoxia during such a jump is greater in smokers.

Say the guys want a hit of nicotine before the jump, but obviously they can't smoke on the plane and presumably shouldn't be smoking too much before the jump (would smoking recently make any difference in terms of their risk of hypoxia? Or would one or two pre-flight cigarettes make a difference?). Since I assume it's the smoke that's an issue, not the tobacco or nicotine itself, would it be realistic for them to chew while they're on the plane, just to get some nicotine?

(I know it sounds like I'm obsessing too much over a small detail, but "to dip or not to dip" makes a pretty big difference in the scene I'm writing)

thethinker42
04-25-2013, 07:40 PM
Someone just suggested nicotine gum as an alternative, which I suppose would make sense on a flight anyway. Any reason why this wouldn't work?

Kaiser-Kun
04-25-2013, 07:42 PM
There was something similar in the beginning of Metal Gear Solid 3. Snake smoked a cigar (and was scolded for it) just before the jump, but it went fine.

Of course, Metal Gear videogames aren't the best sources of realism...

thethinker42
04-25-2013, 07:44 PM
There was something similar in the beginning of Metal Gear Solid 3. Snake smoked a cigar (and was scolded for it) just before the jump, but it went fine.

Of course, Metal Gear videogames aren't the best sources of realism...

I think I remember that. Pretty sure Snake and reality don't always line up, though. lol

They might be able to smoke pre-flight, but definitely not ON the flight. Like I said, someone suggested nicotine gum, so maybe that'll work.

shadowwalker
04-25-2013, 08:06 PM
Considering the number of soldiers who make these jumps and the number who probably smoke, I don't think I'd worry about it too much. Wanting a smoke before the actual jump is different from actually having to have one - and frankly, I would think they'd be too stoked up on adrenaline to really need one.

Drachen Jager
04-25-2013, 08:42 PM
Considering the number of soldiers who make these jumps and the number who probably smoke, I don't think I'd worry about it too much.

HALO jumping is not an ordinary parachute drop. This is an elite special-forces jump, High Altitude, Low Opening, for covert infiltration. Normally done during the night. It is incredibly dangerous and only performed when there is great need.

@The Thinker

I didn't come in contact with many special forces types when I was in the Army, but I do know some of them simply used nicotine patches when they went operational. The risk of being caught because the enemy sees an ember at night, or smells your smoke is too great.

Also, in the Canadian forces, it is common practice for all soldiers to 'field strip' cigarettes when they're finished a smoke. You roll the cigarette between your fingers, cherry pointed down, stamp out the embers and crush the tobacco into the ground, then pocket the filter and paper. That way you're not leaving clues behind for the enemy to interpret more than necessary.

The smokers I knew all got used to smoking when there was an opportunity and going without when there wasn't.

thethinker42
04-25-2013, 09:39 PM
Awesome, thanks. I hadn't thought of the patches, but yeah, figured smoking in the field was a bad idea. I think the nicotine gum and/or patches will work for my scene (my character has a bit of an oral fixation, so the gum would help him more than the patch). Also thanks for the bit about getting rid of cigarettes when they're in the field; that may also come in handy.

GeorgeK
04-25-2013, 10:10 PM
It's actually a complex question and answer because the drug that smokers crave is nicotine, which is available in smokeless forms. Nicotine itself has more effect on the heart and blood pressure than the lungs. Increasing O2 demand during a low O2 environment is a definite risk of syncope. So putting a patch on a non-smoker or a casual smoker having a smoke is a defintie problem.

OTOH, chronic smokers have adapted to their relatively high carbon monoxide levels (due to the smoke) and have elevated levels of hemoglobin which might actually compensate during the relatively short duration of a HALO jump.

Severe smokers will have lung disease and so any potential compensation from elevated hemoglobin will likely be lost.

In other words, it probably really doesn't matter that much how you want to write it.

thethinker42
04-25-2013, 10:35 PM
Good to know. Thanks!