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Medications that help smokers kick the habit are now available through Tricare’s home delivery pharmacy system.
Pharmaceuticals such as varencline, or Chantix, and buproprion, or Zyban, as well as various nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gums, lozenges and nasal sprays, can now be obtained with a doctor’s prescription by mail, according to a press release issued Tuesday by the Tricare Management Activity.
The medications also will be carried by most military clinics and hospitals, although it may take some time before they reach pharmacy shelves. Tricare recommends beneficiaries call ahead to see whether their military treatment facility has prescribed medications in stock.
Until now, troops, family members and retirees who wanted to stop smoking could attend counseling and had access to online education tools to help them quit. But they could not get medications to curb cravings unless they paid for them out of pocket.
In 2009, Congress passed a law requiring Tricare to create a smoking cessation program that included the drugs; the process to incorporate them into the Tricare benefit took nearly four years.
Tricare’s smoking cessation programs, including the medications, are available to beneficiaries 18 and older. Tricare for Life beneficiaries are not eligible.
To acquire the prescriptions, some physicians may require patients to attend smoking cessation counseling sessions.
“This is an important step in moving from health care to health,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson. “When troops smoke, it diminishes their ability to participate in physical activity and, of course, increases the chance of respiratory disease.”
The 2011 Defense Department Health Related Behaviors Survey indicated that about a quarter of active-duty troops smoke and slightly more than 10 percent use smokeless tobacco products such as chew and snuff.