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Latino Veterans and Tobacco

Latino family, including mother, father, and son.

About six percent of all Veterans are Latino. This number is projected to increase to 11 percent by 2040. Among the general U.S. population, Latinos have one of the lowest smoking rates, 12 percent, compared to all other race/ethnic groups. But for Latino Veterans in VA care, their smoking rate is much higher, at almost 19 percent.

#SaludTues tweetchat

VA co-hosted a #SaludTues Tweetchat with SaludToday and National Caner Institute’s Smokefree.gov initiative to discuss tobacco use among Latinos in the U.S. and cessation resources that meet their needs. VA discussed available resources for Latino Veterans in VA care. You can view the full Tweetchat to find more information on smoking among Latinos and related resources.

Health effects of tobacco

Smoking causes a number of serious health effects. Smoking increases a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke, which for U.S. Latinos, are the first and fifth leading causes of death, respectively. Even if someone smokes fewer than five cigarettes a day, that level of use can still increase their risk for heart disease and lung cancer.

Any amount of smoking is also dangerous to those individuals exposed to the smoke. The smoke from lighted tobacco products, secondhand smoke, contains chemicals that can harm babies before and after they are born, affect lung development, and cause cancer and heart disease in adults who are non-smokers.

The best way to protect your friends and family from secondhand smoke is to quit. It’s a win-win because your health improves as does the health of your loved ones. In fact, Latino callers to VA’s Quit VET telephone quitline say friends and family are their top motivation to quit smoking.

Get help from VA

Veterans in care at VA have access to tobacco cessation medication and counseling—a combination that gives a person their best chance at successfully quitting and staying quit. VA has tobacco cessation resources in both Spanish and English in order to provide Latino Veterans with tools in their preferred language:

If you use tobacco products, talk to your VA health care provider about quitting. They can help you develop a quit plan.

Not enrolled in VA health care? Find out if you're eligible.