WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2017 — “This Veteran's Day we give thanks to our country's veterans and show reverence for the sacrifices they have made for our country. However, it is critical to provide year-round support for this community including access to quality healthcare and tailored clinical services to live healthy lives. Because so many more veterans and active duty members of the military smoke than the civilian population, veterans require smoking cessation resources to match their higher rates of tobacco use,” said Jane L. Delgado, Ph.D., M.S., President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (the Alliance), the nation's leading Hispanic health advocacy group.
The military has a long history of tobacco use and a culture of smoking. While 57% of the U.S. population has never smoked cigarettes, only 32% of veterans receiving health care from the Veterans Administration (VA) report they have never smoked. There are currently 18.5 million military veterans in the United States and Puerto Rico, and 1.2 million of them are Hispanic (6.5%).
As with all users, cigarette smoking increases risk for diseases among veterans and active-duty members, including lung cancer, heart disease, and many others. Additionally, their strength and performance can be impaired by smoking, either through exposure to nicotine in cigarettes, or through nicotine withdrawal. Service members who use tobacco are also more likely to drop out of basic training and experience accidents and injuries, which negatively impact troop readiness.
The Alliance is promoting the CDC and VA's free resources to help veterans quit tobacco use through its Nuestras Voces (Our Voices) Network, spearheaded by 11 regional partners around the country, which works to reduce tobacco use and cancer incidence in Hispanic communities. Network efforts include providing technical assistance to Hispanic-serving organizations to improve their ability to connect people to screening and cessation services, raising awareness of tobacco and cancer-related risks through the media, and conducting provider trainings on tobacco and cancer control evidence-based interventions.
Many resources are available to help veterans and active-duty service members quit. These resources include cessation counseling and medicines, quitlines, and other services through TRICARE coverage and Department of Defense programs. Cessation counseling at VA medical centers and FDA-approved smoking cessation medications at VA pharmacy programs are available. The VA's Tobacco and Health webpage (www.publichealth.va.gov/smoking/index.asp) links to information on quitting and cessation medication/counseling, and the SmokefreeVET program (www.smokefree.gov/veterans) offers text messaging cessation support (text VET to 47848 for English, VETesp for Spanish). To speak with a tobacco cessation counselor in English or Spanish call 1-855-QUIT-VET.
According to Dr. Delgado, “The challenges veterans face both during and after their service can be numerous, but becoming sick from using tobacco use shouldn't be one of them. To overcome this dangerous habit, all of our veterans need to understand the real costs of using tobacco and the right tools to get the help they need to quit.”
About the Nuestras Voces Network. Nuestras Voces is a national network of over 200 members working for a tobacco-free world and to eliminate disparities in cancer prevention and treatment services. You can be part of this effort being led by the National Alliance for Hispanic Health! Join us at www.nuestrasvoces.org/join.
About the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. The Alliance is the nation's foremost science-based source of information and trusted advocate for the health of Hispanics in the United States with a mission to achieve the best health outcomes for all. For more information visit us www.hispanichealth.org.
SOURCE National Alliance for Hispanic Health
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