Quit Smoking for Your Health and Breathe Easier - Veterans Health Administration
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Quit Smoking for Your Health and Breathe Easier

Male Veteran on a beach inhailing the fresh air.

If you smoke, this year breathe easier. Make a plan to quit for your health.

By Christina Beckerman, VA Office of Public Health
Thursday, November 20, 2014

November 20th is the Great American Smokeout. If you smoke, this year breathe easier. Make a plan to quit for your health and to quit for good! The benefits of quitting smoking are immediate and last a lifetime.

Here are some helpful tips and encouragement to help you kick your habit from Dr. Timothy P. Carmody, a clinical psychologist and smoking cessation specialist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and University of California San Francisco. For the past several decades, Carmody has been helping Veterans quit smoking and stay quit.

You Can Do It!

As the old adage goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” For many Veterans, the idea of quitting smoking is overwhelming and mustering up the confidence to quit can be hard. It is often difficult to picture yourself successfully quitting, imagining a life without cigarettes, or dealing with cravings or other effects such as increased appetite and anxiety.

Be confident. You can quit and keep your confidence through every stage of the quit process.

Find Your Motivation and Support

Veterans quit for many different reasons – a spouse or partner, parents, friends or health. Many want to set a good example for children or grandchildren. Find your own motivation for quitting and lean on it through the quit process. Your motivation may also lend you support, such as family who can cheer you on or help lift you up. If you don’t have family or friends who can offer support, lean on your community, learn from former smokers or join a VA support group.

You May Relapse (and That’s OK)!

Throughout your journey to quit smoking, you may experience setbacks. In fact, most Veterans who successfully quit have relapsed at one point or another in the past. Your ultimate success in quitting will be built on the lessons learned from these setbacks. Do not get discouraged or feel like you have failed.

The only failure is to stop trying.

Get Complete Care

Veterans who smoke may also be in treatment for other health conditions such as mental health or substance use disorders. When seeking treatment for other health conditions, consider quitting smoking as part of your overall treatment or recovery.

Make a Quit Plan: VA Can Help!

Call 1-855-QUIT-VET to get started on your quit plan. Combine smoking cessation medication with counseling for the best chance of quitting. Talk with your health care provider about getting a prescription or recommendation for nicotine replacement therapy such as gum, patch, lozenge and other medications. VA offers counseling and several types of support:

  • One-on-one counseling by your primary health provider or a smoking cessation specialist.
  • Smoking cessation groups to help you provide and gain support from other Veterans navigating the quit process.
  • 1-855-QUIT-VET: VA’s smoking quitline that offers phone counseling in English or Spanish.
  • Text messaging support through SmokefreeVET and SmokefreeEspanol. Text the word VET to 47848 sign up.

Remember, it’s never too late to quit! Learn more about available smoking cessation resources.