VA has partnered with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to offer SmokefreeVET, a text message program to help Veterans quit smoking. SmokefreeVET provides support, advice, and tips to help you quit smoking and stay quit. It is a 6 to 8 week program, and users receive between 1 and 5 messages per day.
Signing up is as easy as texting the word VET to IQUIT (47848) from your mobile phone. After answering a few questions you will start receiving messages. You can also visit SmokefreeVET learn more about the service and to sign up. There is no fee for this service but your mobile phone provider may charge you for each message. If you do not have an unlimited text messaging plan, you may prefer to receive support by texting the word URGE, STRESS, or SMOKED to 47848.
Did you know that almost half of all Veterans are former smokers? Many Veterans started smoking and using tobacco while they were in the military. Quitting smoking is hard, but many Veterans have successfully quit, and you can too. Seven out of every 10 people who smoke say they want to quit.
To help you stop smoking on May 31st, VA health care providers recommend getting rid of all tobacco, ashtrays, and lighters before you quit. Not having cigarettes around will make it harder for you to smoke. Sign up for SmokefreeVET up to 2 weeks before your quit day. You will receive messages to help prepare you to quit.
Plan ahead! VA providers say their patients have an easier time dealing with cravings if they have identified other things they can do instead of smoking; chewing gum, going for a walk, or avoiding situations where you’ll be tempted to smoke can help. If you have strong urges to smoke, text URGE to 47848 for a quick tip on how to beat the craving.
Many Veterans say they smoke to cope with stress. It can be hard to resist the urge to smoke when you are stressed. Plan what you will do instead of smoking. For tips on ways to deal with stress besides smoking, text STRESS to 47848.
Quitting smoking is hard, but VA can help. Many VA health care providers are trained to help Veterans quit smoking. VA health care providers recommend using a combination of counseling and medicine to quit. Counseling helps to identify and change your habits, while medicines, like the nicotine patch and nicotine gum help to deal with cravings.
Ask your VA provider, whether it’s your primary care doctor, mental health provider, or other health care provider, if they can help you to quit smoking. SmokefreeVET is meant to be used with medicine and your VA provider to help you quit.
Use these resources to help you quit on May 31st and to stay quit for life.
Dana Christofferson, PhD, is a management analyst in the Tobacco & Health program in VA’s Veterans Health Administration.