Military Service Members and Veterans
If you are currently serving in the military, you’re more likely to smoke cigarettes than civilians. Smoking is even more common for those of you who have been deployed.
Smoking increases your risk for lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and many other diseases.
- Detailed Statistics Learn about smoking among specific populations and the current rates of cigarette smoking in the United States.
Learn the real stories of military service members and veterans who are suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities.
Meet James. James, age 48, lives in New York and began smoking at age 14. He quit smoking in 2010 to reduce his risk for health problems and now bikes 10 miles every day.
Meet Mark. Mark, age 47, lives in California and started smoking as a teenager. He continued smoking during military service in the Persian Gulf and in civilian life until he developed rectal cancer at age 42.
Meet Michael. Michael, age 57, lives in Alaska and began smoking at age 9. At 44, he was diagnosed with COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — which makes it harder and harder to breathe and can cause death.
Meet Nathan. Nathan lived in Idaho. A member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, he was exposed to secondhand smoke at work that caused permanent lung damage and triggered asthma attacks so severe he had to leave his job. His illness led to his death on October 17, 2013. He was 54.
Learn more about all Tips participants in our Real Stories section.
You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support.
Active duty and retired service members, you and your families can access cessation counseling, cessation medicines, quitlines, and other services through your TRICARE coverage and Department of Defense programs.
Military OneSource is a resource available to active duty service members; immediate family members; and in some cases, civilians. (Please check their Web site for specific eligibility guidelines, which is listed under the Confidential Help tab.)
Following are helpful, free quit resources available on this site:
- Cessation materials; simply type “Cessation” in the search box on the home page. These materials include
Check the Web site periodically for additional resources.
The following resources offer free help for those of you who are on active duty or who are retired:
- Department of Defense-sponsored Web site Quit Tobacco—UCanQuit2, which includes information about:
- Text message cessation support: SmokefreeMIL (Text MIL to 47848)
- Live chat instant messaging (Please note that the Live Chat is anonymous and will pop up after about 30 seconds. This is available to TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries.)
- Freedom Quitline: Research study enrolling TRICARE beneficiaries motivated to quit smoking. Participants receive free telephone-based counseling as well as nicotine replacement therapy. Call 1-844-I-AM-FREE (1-844-426-3733) or visit the site for more information.
- Operation Live Well Tobacco-Free Living
- Tobacco cessation products (available to TRICARE beneficiaries who aren’t eligible for Medicare)
- Tobacco cessation counseling services
If you are a veteran enrolled for care in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system and you’re ready to quit smoking, VA can help. Please contact your primary care team today to learn more about what’s available to help you quit.
Smoking cessation counseling is available at all VA medical centers, and FDA-approved smoking cessation medications are available through all VA pharmacy programs. To find the VA health care facility nearest you, go to the Veterans Health Administration Facility Locator.
Following is a list of additional free quit resources:
- Web sites:
- Text messaging cessation support: SmokefreeVET (Text VET to 47848 [for support in English] or VETesp [for support in Spanish])
- VA National Quitline: 1-855-QUIT-VET
- Information about the VA National Quitline
On this Page
- Know the Facts
- For More Information
- Real Stories: Military Service Members & Veterans Featured in Tips
- Quitting Help
- For Active Duty Service Members, Civilians, and Their Families
- For Military Service Members and Their Families
- For Veterans Enrolled for Care in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System
Brian, age 63, was a heavy smoker for more than 45 years. He had his first heart attack at age 35 while he was stationed in England. An Air Force veteran, Brian experienced several heart problems throughout his military career. In July 2012, he received a heart transplant after quitting smoking for good. While Brian remained smokefree, the damage caused by years of smoking continued to affect his body. Five years later, in January 2017, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had surgery to remove part of his lung.
“If I’m around after everything I’ve been through, other people can have hope, too.”
- Page last reviewed: March 23, 2018
- Page last updated: June 5, 2018
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