Massachusetts has launched its second campaign in three years to try to curb smoking among veterans..

March 9, 2011 - Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services said: "We value the brave men and women who have proudly served our country and we want to provide them with the opportunity to live long, healthy lives."

In 2008, the Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Public Health launched its first smoking cessation program for veterans. Nearly 4,000 veterans and family members called the hotline to obtain free support and nicotine patches over the seven-month program.

“This smoking-cessation program for veterans is a demonstration of our state’s commitment to helping serve those who have served us,’’ said state Representative James E. Vallee, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.

Smoking is a major problem among veterans even as it is generally on the decline across the state. Overall, 23.5 percent of veterans smoke, according to Governor Deval Patrick’s office. But only 16.1 percent of all adults in Massachusetts smoke, which is below the national average of 18.4 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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 over 50 percent higher in military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan than for those who were not deployed there.

“It’s a very serious problem, and we think it’s not only a public health issue but a veterans’ services issue, as well,’’ said Coleman Nee, secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Services, in a phone interview yesterday. “Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines put themselves in very dangerous situations, and it’s a real shame for them to make it back here and put themselves into a bad situation because of an addition to cigarettes.’’

Reference: Veterans get help to quit smoking State renews campaign with a free program by John M. Guilfoil,, 3/8/2011.

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