Military Service Members and Veterans

Know the Facts

If you are a service member or military veteran, you’re more likely to use tobacco products than civilians. Cigarette smoking is more common among service members who have been deployed overseas. Cigarette smoking increases your risk for lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and many other diseases.

  • Over 1/3 of service members start using tobacco after they enter military service.1
  • During 2010–2015, more than 1 in 5 (21.6%) veterans in the United States reported being current cigarette smokers.2 The rate of cigarette smoking among Veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System is significantly lowerpdf iconexternal icon [PDF – 4.1 MB]. In 2018, 14.6% of Veterans enrolled for care reported being a current cigarette smoker.3

In addition to adversely affecting their health, the high prevalence of tobacco use among military and veteran personnel also has a significant financial impact. In 2014, tobacco use cost the Department of Defense nearly $1.8 billion in medical and non-medical costs.4 During 2010, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) spent an estimated $2.7 billion on smoking-related ambulatory care, prescription drugs, hospitalizations, and home health care.1

Get Help to Quit Smoking

To get started right now, see our How to Quit Smoking website featuring a Quit Guide and an additional Quitting Resources page.

Get free help to quit smoking by calling a quitline: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Veterans who receive their health care through the VA can call the VA national quitlineexternal icon at 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838). Quitline coaches can answer questions, help you develop a quit plan, and provide support.

If you are looking for help to quit smokeless tobaccoexternal icon you can text “SPIT” to 333888. If you are looking to quit using e-cigarettes, check out This Is Quittingexternal icon, a free mobile program designed to help young people quit using e-cigarettes.

Resources for Active Duty or Retired Service Members

If you are an active duty or a retired service member, you and your family may access cessation counseling, cessation medicines, quitlines, and other services through your TRICARE coverage and through Department of Defense programs. If you are in the Reserves or National Guard, check out the resources below. There are also resources available in your local area, including your state quitline, which you can reach by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Picture of an African-American family - father, young son and mom.  She is dressed in military uniform.
  • Visit YouCanQuit2external icon, a Department of Defense program to help people in the US military quit tobacco use. The site includes a live chat feature and provides personalized online support from coaches to TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries and others who are assisting them in quitting tobacco use.
  • Understand the tobacco cessation services external iconthat are available to you through TRICARE, including counseling, prescription medication, and over-the-counter medications to help you quit tobacco use.
  • Find more information and resources about how to quit smoking on the Tobacco-Free Livingexternal icon webpage of the Operation Live Well website.

Service-Specific Resources and Programs:

Thinking About Quitting?  Tobacco Cessation Resources - screenshot of PDF

Find resourcespdf iconexternal icon [PDF-794 KB] to help motivate you and increase your confidence so you can quit tobacco for good.

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 Are you in the US Coast Guard?

Visit Tricare.mil/UCanQuit2external icon to get resources to help motivate you and increase your confidence so you can quit tobacco for good.

Resources for Veterans Enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System

If you are a veteran enrolled in the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, you have access to VA resources and services to help you quit smoking. Smoking cessation counseling is available at all VA medical centers, and FDA-approved smoking cessation medications are available through all VA pharmacy programs. Use the Veterans Health Administration Facility Locatorexternal icon to find a VA health care facility near you.

Picture of a senior man getting his blood pressure taken.

Resources for Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program Enrollees

Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Logo

You have access to the FEHB plan tobacco cessation benefitexternal icon if you are a federal employee whose Condition of Employment includes:

  • Membership in a military unit and who has elected coverage in the FEHB Program.
  • An activated federal employee eligible and is electing to maintain FEHB enrollment during military service.
  • A Department of Defense civilian employee electing coverage in the FEHB program.
  • A veteran, who makes up about 30% of the federal workforce.5
  • A family member included as a beneficiary under a FEHB enrollee.

The tobacco cessation benefit covers treatment for all forms of tobacco use, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco. Because the combination of counseling and medication gives tobacco users the best chance of quitting successfully, the benefit covers:

  • At least two quit attempts per year, and at least four tobacco cessation counseling sessions per quit attempt. These behavioral interventions include individual counseling, group counseling, and proactive telephone counseling.
  • All seven FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications, including over-the-counter tobacco cessation medications, with a doctor’s prescription or as part of a plan-approved tobacco cessation program. This includes combination nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
  • These benefits are provided with no copayments or coinsurance and are not subject to deductibles or annual or life time dollar limits.

For more information on how to access the benefit, please contact your health plan or consult your plan’s brochureexternal icon.

Real Stories: Military Service Members in Tips®

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

Learn more about all Tips participants in our Real Stories section.

For More Information

Learn what percentage of people currently smoke cigarettes, both in the United States overall and among specific populations.

References
  1. US Department of Defense.  Survey of Health-Related Behaviors Among Active Duty Military Personnel 2005. Washington, DC: US Department of Defense; 2006.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco product Use among military veterans—United States, 2010–2015. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2018; 67:7–12.
  3. US Department of Veterans Affairs. 2018 Survey of Veteran Enrollees’ Health and Use of Healthcare Data Findings Reportpdf iconexternal icon [PDF – 4.1 MB]. Washington, DC: US Department of Veterans Affairs; 2019.
  4. Elenberg K, et al. Cost of Tobacco Use & Exposure, Overweight and Obesity, and High Alcohol Consumption within the TRICARE Prime and Standard Population: Technical Report., 2016.
  5. Office of Personnel Management. OPM Releases Veteran Employment Dataexternal icon. Washington, DC: Office of Personnel Management,; 2017.