About three in ten US veterans use tobacco products

Veterans use tobacco at much higher rates than most non-veterans


About 3 in 10 U.S. military veterans used some form of tobacco product during 2010–2015, according to new data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco product use was higher among veterans than among non-veterans for males and females across all age groups, except males ages 50 years and older.


CDC used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) to assess the different tobacco products currently used (in the past 30 days) by U.S. veterans and non-veterans. Current use among veterans was highest for cigarettes (21.6 percent), followed by cigars (6.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.2 percent), roll-your-own tobacco (3.0 percent), and pipes (1.5 percent).

“These findings highlight the importance of further protecting the health of our military veterans,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We must redouble our efforts to help veterans quit and reduce the preventable suffering and premature death caused by tobacco use.”

Key findings
•Among both veterans and non-veterans, the prevalence of any tobacco product use was significantly higher among males than among females in each age group, except veterans ages 50 and older.
•Among veterans, current use of any of the tobacco products was higher among those: ◦with no health insurance (60.1 percent)
◦living in poverty (53.7 percent)
◦ages 18–25 years (56.8 percent)
◦reporting serious psychological distress (48.2 percent)
◦with annual family income <$20,000 (44.3 percent), and
◦with less than a high school diploma (37.9 percent).

•The high prevalence of tobacco use among military and veteran personnel has a significant financial impact. Barnette and colleagues found that during 2010, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) spent an estimated $2.7 billion on smoking-related ambulatory care, prescription drugs, hospitalization, and home health care.

“VA has more tobacco use treatment options available than ever and we are committed to continuing to lower the rate of smoking among Veterans enrolled in VA and to providing individualized support to help Veterans become tobacco-free,” said Kim Hamlett-Berry, Ph.D., Program Director of VA Tobacco & Health Policy. “Historically, rates of smoking among all Veterans—including those enrolled in VA—have been high. However, we have seen progress with declines in cigarette use among enrolled Veterans. The 2015 VA Survey of Enrollees reported that 16.8 percent of Veterans enrolled for health care in VA identified as a current smoker.”

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention