RI Dept of Health & PVAMC Campaign to Help Vets Quit Smoking - Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
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Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island


RI Dept of Health & PVAMC Campaign to Help Vets Quit Smoking

A Vets sitting down smoking
By Ellen Lynch, RN
Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Providence VA Medical Center (PVAMC) today launched the Veterans’ Free Nicotine Patch Campaign, a statewide initiative designed to increase successful quit-smoking attempts among Veterans. Through this campaign, all Veterans (to include active, inactive, and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces) who use tobacco will be eligible to receive a two-week supply of free nicotine patches when they receive counseling via the Smokers’ Helpline (1-800-QUIT NOW).  Following the two-week free nicotine patch supply, Veterans will be directed to the appropriate cessation services through the Helpline.

This campaign, modeled after a successful initiative by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reflects a growing concern about Veterans’ high rates of tobacco use.  Historically, members of the Armed Forces have smoked at a higher rate than the general population.  A recent study from the Institute of Medicine showed that 32 percent of active-duty military personnel smoke and that the prevalence of smoking may be more than 50 percent higher in military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan than for those who were not deployed there.  Additionally, up to one-third of Armed Forces members who smoke report that they did not smoke prior to their military service.

“Scientific evidence shows that using nicotine replacement therapy can double a smoker’s chances of success in quitting,” said Director of HEALTH Michael Fine, M.D.  “Using nicotine replacement therapy in combination with behavioral counseling is a one-two punch that has been found to be even more effective than using either alone.”

“Thousands of Veterans were able to access these valuable cessation resources during the Massachusetts Veterans’ Free Patch Campaign,” said Vincent Ng, Medical Center Director for the Providence VA Medical Center. “We are looking forward to being able to do the same for our Veterans here in Rhode Island.”

This campaign with the Rhode Island Department of Health complements the Providence VAMC’s efforts to increase successful quit-smoking attempts by emphasizing health promotion.  In addition to the resources available during this campaign, the Providence VAMC also offers the following tobacco-free resources:

• Vet Quit:  A group drop-in session.  No appointment or referral is required:
    Providence VAMC:  Every Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
    Hyannis CBOC:  Every Thursday, 10:00 a.m. – 11:100 a.m.
    New Bedford CBOC:  Every Monday, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

• Smoking Cessation Behavioral Counseling & Pharmacy Interventions:  Individual sessions targeting smoking cessation.  Appointments are available on Wednesdays between 8:00 a.m. and 12 noon.  Please call (401) 273-7100, ext. 4213, to arrange for an appointment.

• Quit Smoking Program:  Intensive behavior counseling and medication group sessions are offered three times per year for six consecutive weeks on Mondays from 3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.  A referral from your VA healthcare provider is required.  Please call (401) 273-7100, ext. 2662, for additional information.

• Staying Smoke Free:  Group drop-in sessions for continued support.  At the Providence VAMC, group drop-in sessions are every Wednesday from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., beginning in May.  No appointment or referral is required.

The Veterans’ Free Nicotine Patch Campaign runs April 2 through June 30, 2012.

Veterans may also call the VA Quit Tobacco Phone Line at (401) 457-1490 for information and to request additional nicotine patches (co-pay may apply).


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