Who is eligible?
This program is designed for military Veterans receiving their health care through VA who are quitting smoking. Anyone at least 18 years old with an unlimited texting plan on their mobile phone can sign up. If you don’t have unlimited texts, you can still sign up, but please contact your mobile phone company for text message rates.
What do the messages say?
Here are some sample messages:
SmokefreeVET: Challenge yourself. Next time you have the urge to smoke, try to resist for 5 min. or skip the cig entirely. Think of it as practice for quit day.
SmokefreeVET: Tomorrow is quit day! Toss your pack in the trash & get plenty of sleep. For extra support, text these keywords at any time: Urge, Stress, or Smoked
SmokefreeVET: When you were deployed, you smoked to stay awake & fight boredom. You don’t have to do that anymore. Keep busy with a hobby or favorite activity.
How long does the program last?
You can sign up for SmokefreeVET up to 14 days before your self-identified quit date. The text program will start two weeks before your quit date and last for six weeks following your quit date. We will also follow up at one, three, and six months after the program ends to see how you are doing.
How do I sign up?
Visit http://smokefree.gov/VET to sign up. Or sign up from your mobile phone! Send a text message with the word VET to 47848, answer a few questions, and you’ll start receiving text messages from SmokefreeVET.
What kind of information will I have to provide to sign up?
SmokefreeVET collects your mobile phone number, specified quit date, age, gender, smoking frequency, and whether your mobile phone has Internet capabilities. This information is used to enroll you into the messaging service and to personalize your experience. No information is used for any commercial purposes.
Will my VA health care provider be able to monitor me through this program?
SmokefreeVET does not share your information with the VA electronic medical record or with your VA health care provider. We encourage you to speak with your VA provider about quitting and let them know if you are using the SmokefreeVET service. Your VA provider can provide you with behavioral counseling and medications to help you stop smoking.
What other services does VA offer to help me quit smoking?
Talk to your VA health care provider – he or she can provide behavioral counseling and medications, which can increase your chance of successfully quitting smoking. There is no co-pay for any Veteran in VA to receive behavioral counseling to help them stop smoking. Visit the Tobacco & Health webpage http://www.publichealth.va.gov/smoking/ for more information about quitting smoking in VA.
Is there a cost to sign up?
There is no additional fee for this service. However, message and data rates may apply. If you pay for individual texts, this program may not be for you. If you aren’t sure if you pay for individual texts, check with your mobile carrier before signing up, just to be safe.
If I don’t have an unlimited text messaging plan can I still participate?
You bet! You do not need to sign up for the full SmokefreeVET program to use the keyword messages. At any time, you can text the word Urge, Stress, or Smoked to 47848 to receive supportive messages from SmokefreeVET. You can find more information on keywords here: keywords.
What if I want to start over and pick a new quit date?
No problem. We will automatically ask you a status question every week that will give you the option to keep going or start over. If you want to pick a new quit date or start from the beginning of the program, simply opt out, and then sign up again at http://smokefree.gov/VET. You can also opt out at any time by texting STOP to 47848. Even if you choose to opt out, you can always sign back up by visiting http://smokefree.gov/VET —even on the same day!
What if I change my mobile number?
If you change your mobile number between the time you sign up for our program and six weeks after your quit date (the end of the program), you will need to sign up again on our website. We apologize for this inconvenience.
Will you ever identify me by my mobile phone number?
SmokefreeVET will only use your mobile number for the purpose of the SmokefreeVET program–to send and receive the text messages you’ve signed up for or to assist you with any technical support that you request. We will not be able to link your mobile number to personally identifiable information like your name, physical address or email address.
Will SmokefreeVET ever call me?
SmokefreeVET will never call you. Your mobile number is used solely for the purpose of the text messaging program. Any information you provide will be kept confidential. No one else can or will contact you or try to sell you anything. Your mobile number will not be shared with any third party.
Can I “opt out” if I don’t like SmokefreeVET?
Sure, just reply to one of our messages with STOP. Or you can send STOP at any time to 47848 and the messages will end.
I’ve “opted out” by texting STOP but I’m still receiving messages. How do I stop receiving text messages?
We’re sorry! Make sure you text only the word STOP to 47848. Some common problems include the following:
- Including a space after the word STOP
- Including a punctuation mark (i.e., period, comma, exclamation point, etc.) after the word STOP
- Having an automatic signature line in your text messages (i.e., your name, a quote, an emoticon)
- Having (Re:) precede each of your text messages
If I have more questions, can I speak to someone?
You can email us at NCISmokefreeTeam@mail.nih.gov. Or if you have questions specific to quitting smoking, you can call the VA Quitline: 1-855-QUIT-VET (1-855-784-8838) and talk to a smoking cessation counselor. It’s free and anonymous.
For more information on VA’s smoking and tobacco cessation programs, visit: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/smoking/.