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Quit Smoking: Veteran Resources

According to the Centers for Disease Control, military veterans have a higher rate of tobacco use than other demographics. Due to its addictive qualities, many are drawn to it despite the risks of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses it causes.

Many also struggle to quit the habit. Did you know there are Department of Veterans Affairs resources that can help in with tobacco cessation?

VA help takes into account the additional challenges that make quitting more difficult, such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and illness. Most treatments include a combination of medication and counseling to support vets while they try to quit smoking.

Through the VA, the following smoking cessation options include:

  • Medication Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Tobacco Cessation Quitline
  • SmokeFreeVET
  • Stay Quit Coach

Find a VA Health Care Facility using the VA Finder tool to find the options best for you and read up on smoking cessation with this informational packet, Starter Kit to Quit Tobacco.

Medication Therapy

Tobacco products include nicotine, which upon quitting can cause irritability, insomnia, cravings, restlessness and mood changes. Nicotine replacement therapy, or medications that help replace nicotine with what are thought to be less-damaging ingredients, that help tame the urge to smoke.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products include patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers and sprays
  • Bupropion (Zyban®) is a pill that reduces your urge to use tobacco starting two weeks before set quit date
  • Varenicline is a pill that reduces withdrawal symptoms


The VA offers both personal, phone, and virtual counseling sessions for those quitting smoking, avoiding triggers, and creating a tobacco-free environment. The brevity or depth of the counseling sessions is adjusted according to patient needs.

Oftentimes the most effective treatment to stop smoking is the combination of medication and counseling.

Through counseling, many find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy useful as it trains them to be conscious of their thoughts and how thoughts connect to behaviors. Through counseling, the right combination of tools can be assigned to help veterans quit smoking.

Tobacco Cessation Quitline

When you decide to quit smoking, call the free, VA-provided Tobacco Cessation Quitline at 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838). Counseling is in English or Spanish and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST during weekdays. Trained counselors help you get back on track, create a quitting plan or prevent relapses.

The first call centers around creating the personal quit plan. During this half hour session you will gain knowledge of VA smoking cessation resources, identifying craving sources and triggers and plans for follow-up.

Additionally, for cessation help in English, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or in Spanish, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA(1-855-335-3569).


SmokefreeVET offers free text support for advice and encouragement. Text the words URGE, STRESS, SMOKED, or DIPPED to get help. Sign up for free at smokefree.gov/VET or by texting VET to 47848.

For Spanish service, sign up at smokefree.gov/VETespanol or text VETesp at 47848. Once signed up you’ll receive supportive text messages every day to help you set a quit date.

Stay Quit Coach

Stay Quit Coach 2.0 is an app to aid smoking cessation. Using your reasons for waiting to quit smoking, Stay Quit Coach offers tools to cope and motivational messages to reduce needs to smoke.

The app has breathing tools and strategies for stress management that decrease cravings. Created by the National Center for PTSD at the USVA, the app sets goals and tracks progress in your smoke-free journey.

Service members and veterans can seek out branch-specific help

If you are a member of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, you also have access to the FEHB plan tobacco cessation benefit which allows two attempts at quitting per year, counseling, and cessation medications with no copayment or deductibles.



About the author

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Kena Sosa is an award-winning author, filmmaker and percussionist. She
earned her BA from OLLU and her MBEGT from SMU. She published two
award-winning children’s books. Kena has written for CBS/DFW Local and
Multicultural Review Magazine. She was the Guest Editor for the Fall/Winter
2023 ChildArt Magazine issue. Kena has written for Recon Media since 2023.