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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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Be Tobacco Free

Be tobacco free! Don't use tobacco in any form. If you are using tobacco, the VA can help you quit. Avoid secondhand smoke. If you are pregnant, both you and your baby will benefit when you quit using tobacco.

What's Important to Know?


Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your health and protect the health of your family members. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Using tobacco causes many diseases and affects your overall health. Quitting smoking or other forms of tobacco has benefits in the short- and long-term for you and your loved ones. It's never too late to quit, as your health will improve at any age after quitting tobacco use.

All forms of tobacco are harmful. This includes cigars, pipes, snuff, snus, and chewing tobacco. The safety of electronic cigarettes has not yet been determined.

Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke kill approximately 443,000 people in the United States each year. It is the largest cause of preventable illness and death in the United States.

Tobacco use is a cause of:

  • Cancers
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Complications of pregnancy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Secondhand smoke is associated with:

  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Asthma attacks
  • Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Pregnancy problems such as miscarriages and low birth weight
  • Damaged sperm which can reduce fertility and harm fetal development

Breathing secondhand smoke has immediate harmful effects on your health and increases the risk of heart attack. People who already have heart disease are at especially high risk.

There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Even brief exposure can be dangerous.

Good things happen as soon as you quit. You will:

  • Have more energy and breathe easier.
  • Save money that you can spend on other things.
  • Find that your clothes, car, and home smell better.
  • Have fewer wrinkles, and no stains on your skin and nails.
  • Discover that food smells and tastes better.
  • Feel good about quitting.
  • Protect your family members and friends from secondhand smoke.
  • Be a good role model for your kids or grandkids.
  • You may think of other reasons, too.

If you are pregnant and quit smoking, your baby will:

  • Be healthier.
  • Get more oxygen.
  • Be less likely to be born too soon.
  • Be less likely to have a very low birth weight.
  • Be more likely to come home from the hospital on the same day that you come home.
  • Have fewer colds and ear infections.
  • Be likely to have fewer asthma and wheezing problems.
  • Be at lower risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Your VA health care team can help you get support with quitting smoking. The most effective treatment is a combination of FDA-approved medications and behavioral counseling. Effective cessation counseling options include: brief counseling provided in primary care; more intensive support in a VA smoking cessation program; telephone quitline counseling through 1-855-QUIT-VET; and SmokefreeVet, a mobile text message service (Text the word VET to 47848 from your mobile phone or visit: Consider using Stay Quit Coach: a free mobile app to support quitting and staying quit.Talk with your health care team about what might work best for you and what is available at your VA.

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Want to Know More?


Ground or pulverized tobacco, that is generally insufflated or "snuffed" through the nose. It is a type of smokeless tobacco. There are several types, but traditionally it means Dry/European nasal snuff. In the United States and Canada, "snuff" can also refer to dipping tobacco, which is applied to the gums rather than inhaled.
Dipping tobacco
Also known as moist snuff, spit tobacco, a lip, or a lippy dippy, a form of smokeless tobacco. It is commonly referred to as dip. A small clump of dip is 'pinched' out of the tin and placed between the lower lip and the gums. The dip rests on the inside lining of the mouth usually for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the user's preference. Dip tobacco often causes the user to produce excess saliva while dipping. This is typically spat onto the ground or in a container, because swallowing can cause irritation to the esophagus, and induce nausea and vomiting.
A moist powder tobacco product consumed by placing it under the lip for extended periods of time. Snus is a form of snuff that is used in a manner similar to American dipping tobacco, but typically does not result in the need for spitting.
Electronic cigarette
An electronic cigarette, e-cigarette or personal vaporizer, is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine by way of a vaporized solution. This vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no smoke or combustion is actually involved in its operation. An electronic cigarette takes the form of some manner of elongated tube, though many are designed to resemble the outward appearance of real smoking products, like cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Another common design is the "pen-style", so named for its visual resemblance to a ballpoint pen. Most electronic cigarettes are reusable devices with replaceable and refillable parts. A number of disposable electronic cigarettes have also been developed. See the FDA Web site for a warning about these products.
Secondhand smoke
The smoke released from the burning end of a cigarette, cigar, or pipe, and the smoke exhaled by the smoker.

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  1. CDC Smoking and Tobacco Use website
  2. The Guide to Community Preventive Services — Tobacco Use website
  3. US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations: Tobacco Smoking Cessation in Adults, Including Pregnant Women: Behavioral and Pharmacotherapy Interventions, 2015.
  4. Web site
  5. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Surgeon General 2006
  6. VHA Office of Public Health website
  7. FDA Guidance on Electronic Cigarettes

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