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Quit Smoking: Let VA Help.


Great American Smokeout

Each year, VA teams up with the American Cancer Society to support the Great American Smokeout, a day where VA encourages Veterans to try, at least for the day, to quit smoking in the hopes that they can quit for a lifetime.

As a group, women Veterans are more likely to smoke than their civilian counterparts, and an estimated 174,000 women die from smoking and secondhand smoke each year in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Further, lung cancer is the leading of cancerous deaths in the United States.

Why should I quit?

No matter how old you are, quitting smoking is an effective way to improve your health. Compared with nonsmokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of:

  • A shorter life – smokers on average die 13 to 15 years earlier than non-smokers.
  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times.
  • Stroke by 2 to 4 times.
  • Women developing lung cancer by 13 times.
  • Dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.
  • Pregnancy complications.

If you are a woman of child-bearing age, smoking has several reproductive side-effects, including increased risk for:

  • Infertility.
  • Preterm delivery.
  • Stillbirth.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Secondhand smoke

You can also stop hurting the health of those you love by quitting smoking. Over 50,000 Americans die each year as a result of inhaling second-hand smoke. According to the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General Report, secondhand smoke causes early death and disease in children and adults who do not smoke. Non-smoking spouses of smokers are also more likely to have heart disease or lung cancer than if they were not exposed to smoke in the home.

Infants and children who are exposed to smoke are at higher risk for:

  • SIDS.
  • Severe respiratory illnesses.
  • Ear infections.
  • Asthma.

A timeline of benefits when a smoker stops smoking

  • As soon as 2 days after quitting, your sense of taste and smell improves.
  • After 3 months, heart attack risk drops and lung function improves.
  • After 1 year, risk of heart disease drops by half.
  • After 10 years, lung cancer death rate drops to half of that of a smoker.
  • After 15 years, risk of heart disease is the same as a nonsmoker’s.

How to quit for good

70% of smokers say they want to quit, but even the most motivated may try 5 or 6 times before they are successful. However, over 3 million Americans quit smoking every year. You can join their ranks today.

To help women Veterans quit smoking, VA offers:

  • Screening and brief counseling in primary care.
  • Individual counseling.
  • Prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy, such as a nicotine patch or gum, or other medications.
  • Participation in evidence-based smoking cessation programs.

Veterans may contact the nearest VA health care facility to schedule an appointment.

Share Your Success

Share your success and help encourage your friends by downloading these badges to use in your social media posts and profiles.

Visit and follow these directions for saving images:

  • Place your cursor on the image you would like to save.
  • Click your right mouse button once.
  • A small pop-up menu will appear. Click on "Save Picture As."
  • Select the correct location, then click "Save."

Additional Resources

  • Call the VA/NCI Smoking Cessation Quitline, Quit VET at 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time for help developing a quit plan, individualized counseling, strategies to prevent relapse, and follow-up calls to help you stay on track. Counseling is also available in Spanish. Click here for more information.
  • For a text-message cessation service, sign-up for SmokefreeVET. Veterans can simply text VET to 47848 from their mobile phone or visit Click here for more information.
  • VA offers extensive resources available here:
  • Check out*† for helpful advice.
  • Offering a variety of resources to help you quit,*† has reminder texts and mobile apps, as well as journals and other materials, targeted to help you stop smoking.
  • Great resources are also available at*†.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extensive information about the effects of tobacco at*†
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also presents*†.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality contains a vast variety of information on smoking cessation at*†
  • For cancer statistics, go to National Cancer Institute:*†
  • The Veterans Crisis Line is always available to help. Call 1-800-273-8255.
Thumbnail of Great American Smokeout poster: Quit Smoking Today for a Healthy Tomorrow

Poster: Great American Smokeout (527 KB, PDF)
Dimensions: 11" x 17"

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*By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.

*By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.
†VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.