VA goes smoke-free, offers programs to help you quit - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

VA goes smoke-free, offers programs to help you quit

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- VA heath care facilities across the nation are about to go smoke-free. Local VA workers say this initiative is about cutting down second hand smoke risks and also about helping veterans kick the habit. 

According to the CDC, cigarettes and other tobacco products remain the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Even so, it's estimated more than 34 million people smoke every day. 

"People will try to quit six to eight times before they actually do quit," said Kirsten Beyers, smoking cessation lead technician. 

Beyers says intervention is key. She's a social worker with the VA and works directly with veterans to offer support during the process. 

"It is not easy. When people reach out, we try to meet them where they are at," said Beyers. 

Beyers says free resources are available at every VA clinic. Through support groups or personal sessions, a plan to help veterans stop smoking is put into action. 

"They are going to need different nicotine replacement therapies. They are also going to need different types of support. Some people aren't comfortable in groups, and that's okay," said Beyers. 

She explains that reaching out doesn't mean you have to stop smoking. Beyers says the VA will be there to answer questions and help you quit when you're ready, for whatever reason motivates you. 

"There is a cost associated with it. That's what a lot of the veterans say. Its their health, yes. Cost, yes. They want to live longer, they want quality of life," said Beyers. 

Beyers added that the initiative for smoke-free campuses was directly tied to new research. Growing evidence shows smoking and exposure to second and third-hand smoke increases risks of illness. 

The VA says by eliminating smoke from campus all together, they'll be able to increase the quality of care. 

For more information on the extensive resources and programs to assist veterans in their smoke-free journey, click here.

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