VA San Diego encourages Veterans to leave smoking behind during yearly Great American Smokeout - VA San Diego Healthcare System
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VA San Diego Healthcare System


VA San Diego encourages Veterans to leave smoking behind during yearly Great American Smokeout

November 17, 2020

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is encouraging Veterans to take the first step, Nov. 19, to stop smoking as part of the annual Great American Smokeout to improve their physical and mental health by combining cessation counseling with other VA clinical resources and support.

Research shows behavioral counseling can significantly improve one’s chances of quitting and combining counseling and medication works better than medication or counseling alone.

“I encourage all Veterans to take the first step toward healthier living and stop smoking today,” said VASDHS Director Dr. Robert M. Smith.

VASDHS consists of two core programs.  Tobacco cessation groups (currently offered by telehealth (phone and video) during the pandemic) and the Pharmacist Managed Telephone Tobacco Cessation Program.  The weekly tobacco cessation groups are led by a psychologist and supported by a pharmacist or psychiatrist for tobacco cessation medications.  

Tobacco Cessation Groups:

  • Meet weekly for 60 minutes in a group setting with other Veterans
  • Patients can start attending at any time
  • Patients receive counseling on behavior change, support and medications to help you stop using tobacco
  • These are drop-in groups: No referral or appointment is needed.
  • There is no co-pay for attending tobacco cessation treatment
  • Currently offering group participation by Video and Telephone conference only
  • No appointment is required and Veterans can call into any group.

VA’s smoking counseling programs are one of the most effective tools available for Veterans who want to permanently stop smoking. VA health care providers can help Veterans explore the role tobacco plays in their daily routine, including the activities or situations that trigger someone to use tobacco products. These triggers can include talking on the phone, drinking coffee or alcohol or feeling bored or stressed. VA providers work with Veterans to develop strategies for coping with those triggers and to tailor plans for quitting that will fit into each Veteran’s everyday life.

In addition to counseling, VA provides other services designed to help Veterans stop smoking, including prescription medications, nicotine-replacement products like gum and patches and resources such as Quit VET and SmokefreeVET.

For more information about tobacco cessation, visit and