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United States Department  of Veterans Affairs

Getting Started

Getting Started

How do I quit? — The basics of just what works.

What works is easy. It is three things:

  • Counseling
  • Medications for quitting smoking
  • Follow-up

Counseling means receiving advice from a doctor, nurse or other health care provider. You may be saying, "I don't need counseling. I already know what to do." However, if you don't get counseling, you may be cheating yourself, and here is why. First, counseling doubles your chance of successfully quitting. And why wouldn't you want to double your chance of becoming a non-smoker? You wouldn't turn down an offer of double your salary, so don't turn down this double. The second reason is that in spite of all you already know, you still are smoking. Even if you only learn a few things this time, those might be the key to your success. And sometimes hearing the same information is a good way to reinforce your commitment. Counseling will help you quit, so let your VA provider make sure you receive counseling.

Medications also double your chances of success. There are different forms of nicotine replacement therapy (nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, inhaler, and nasal spray). And there is also a drug called bupropion (Zyban). All medicines for quitting smoking work equally well — they all double your chances of successfully quitting. The medicines you are most likely to receive from the VA are nicotine patch or bupropion (Zyban), and possibly nicotine gum or nicotine lozenge. VA also carefully considers new FDA-approved medications as they become available to see if they will be helpful to our patients. So along with counseling, ask your doctor for a prescription to help you quit. Remember, only turkeys try to quit cold turkey!

Follow-up means having another contact with your VA provider to discuss your efforts at quitting. Simply put, more contacts to discuss quitting means more success. And they can be in person or by telephone, they can be with your provider, with a nurse or pharmacist, with the smoking cessation clinic, you name it. The ways you can arrange follow-up are limited only by your creativity.

If you have any health problems or take medications, you should consult with your healthcare provider. Recording your personal and family history under the My HealtheVet Health History section can provide valuable information and help your health care provider get you started. It is important to look at your health history and lifestyle as they relate to you or your family. Make sure you record if you have diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or other health problems — all of which can be influenced by use of tobacco products. My HealtheVet has many ways to help you manage your healthcare. Start tracking your health today.

Remember to ask your health care provider for counseling, medications, and follow-up. You'll soon join the ranks of people who can call themselves former smokers!

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Back to Smoking and Tobacco Use Cessation Overview

Reviewed/Updated Date: October 30, 2006
Clinical Advisory Board Sponsor: Dr. Linda Kinsinger
Clinical Subject Matter Experts: Dr. Kim Hamlett-Berry, Dr. Linda Kinsinger
Patient Education Subject Matter Experts: Dr. Rose Mary Pries, Dr. Pam Hebert

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