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PROVIDENCE – A statewide initiative designed to increase help veterans quit smoking has been launched by the R.I. Department of Health and the Providence VA Medical Center.
Through the Veterans’ Free Nicotine Patch Campaign, all U.S. Armed Forces veterans who use tobacco, including active, inactive and retired members of the National Guard, Reserves, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, will be eligible to receive a two-week supply of free nicotine patches (while supplies last) 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 help line.
The campaign, modeled after a successful initiative by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reflects a growing concern about veterans’ high rates of tobacco use.
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.
“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.” •