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Mental Health and Tobacco

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Many Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental health conditions smoke and more than half want to quit.

If you are a Veteran living with a mental health condition, you may use tobacco to deal with stress, negative moods, and other issues. Your tobacco has probably become a habit developed over time.

Smoking affects your psychological health

People who smoke, compared to non-smokers, are more likely to have experienced:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Tobacco use has other physical health effects as well.

Quitting smoking will improve your mental health

Some people may have more stress and anxiety when quitting smoking. Some of this is caused by withdrawal symptoms, but this will go away over time, the longer you stay quit.

After one year, former smokers say they are happier and better able to concentrate. Learn about other benefits of quitting tobacco.

Watch this tip from Rebecca, a former smoker, and learn how quitting improved her mental health.


Watch more Tips From Former Smokers, a campaign by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Smoking makes some medications less effective

Tobacco smoke affects how some medications are absorbed and how fast they are used by your body. This can make some medications work less well, especially medications for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychotic disorders

Talk to your doctor if you smoke and take any medications.

VA can help

Talk to your mental health provider. Your VA mental health provider may be able to provide you with counseling and smoking cessation medications during your regular visits. Should your mental health provider be unable to counsel you, your regular health care provider can help you with counseling and medications and refer you to a smoking cessation specialty clinic.

Call 1-855-QUIT-VET, VA's smoking quitline. Counselors at the quitline can provide you with counseling to help you change your habits, and help you develop skills to cope with the stress of quitting.

Learn more about mental health and related VA services.