Nearly one-third of American vets use some form of tobacco.
In fact, tobacco use among vets is higher that non-veterans across all age groups except males 50 years and older. This, according to new data from the Centers of Disease Control based on a study of vets 2010-2015.
Smoking is the most common form of tobacco use (21.6%), followed by cigars (6.2%), smokeless tobacco (5.2%), roll your own tobacco (3%) and lastly pipes (1.5%).
Some key findings:
- Among both vets and non-vets, men clearly use tobacco more than women, except people 50 and older.
- Tobacco use among vets is highest if you’re 18-25 years old (56%), poor (53%), have no health insurance (60%), suffer psychological distress (48%) or don’t have a high school diploma (38%).
- There’s a huge price tag: in 2010, the Veterans Health Administration spent a whopping $2.7 billion on smoking-related healthcare.
And VA knows it.
“VA has more tobacco use treatment options available than ever and we are committed to continuing to lower the rate of smoking among Veterans enrolled in VA and to providing individualized support to help Veterans become tobacco-free,” said Kim Hamlett-Berry, Ph.D., Program Director of VA Tobacco & Health Policy. “Historically, rates of smoking among all Veterans-including those enrolled in VA-have been high. However, we have seen progress with declines in cigarette use among enrolled Veterans. The 2015 VA Survey of Enrollees reported that 16.8 percent of Veterans enrolled for health care in VA identified as a current smoker.”
Can more be done?
One third of the smokers started after enlisting. That means tobacco interventions need to start for smokers while they’re “in.” Some ideas are to raise the age requirement to buy tobacco on military bases to 21, and to create tobacco-free policies on military installations.
Do you use tobacco and want to quit?
Resources for veterans who get their health care through VA:
- contact your healthcare provider
- call 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838)
Resources for veterans not enrolled in VA health care:
- call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to speak with a quitline counselor
- https://www.smokefree.gov for help
Resources for active duty, retired service members and their families:
- check with your TRICARE coverage
Or quit smoking along with Connecting Vet’s own Jake Hughes: