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Military Service Members and Veterans

Know the Facts

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.

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Real Stories: Military Service Members and Veterans Featured in Tips®

Learn the real stories of military service members and veterans who are suffering from smoking-related diseases and disabilities.

James 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.

Mark 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.

Michael 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.

Nathan 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.

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Quitting Help

There has never been a better time to quit. To get started right now, see our How to Quit Smoking area, featuring a Quit Guide and an additional Quitting Resources page.

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.

If you are active duty or a retired service member, you and your family can access cessation counseling, cessation medicines, quitlines, and other services through your TRICARE coverage and Department of Defense programs.

For Active Duty Service Members, Civilians, and Their Families

  • Quit Tobacco – UCanQuit2, a Department of Defense program to help the U.S. military quit tobacco.
    • The site also includes a live chat feature and provides personalized online support from coaches to TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries, Veterans Health Administration-enrolled Veterans and those who are assisting them in quitting tobacco.
  • smokefreeMIL: a text message support program for Military Service members trying to quit tobacco. Receive encouragement 24/7 for up to 8 weeks, get advice and tips on how to quit and stay quit, or text a keyword about your mood to get appropriate advice. Text MIL to 47848 or visit the site for more information.
  • Information on TRICARE coverage for tobacco cessation services
  • 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
Service-specific programs and information:
  • Air Force- Contact your local MTF and/or Health Promotion team, for local tobacco cessation resources.
  • Army Public Health Center Tobacco-Free Living & Vaping
  • Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s Tobacco Free Living Program for more resources and tools to help you quit tobacco.
    • You can also visit your local health promotion office or personnel or talk with your medical or dental provider at your military treatment facility.

For Veterans Enrolled for Care in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System

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:

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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.”