Smoke-free policy begins to take effect Oct. 1 at all VA medical facilities

Veterans, families, staff to benefit from smoke-free environment


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Patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and employees will begin to see a smoke-free policy at VA health care facilities starting Oct. 1.

The policy applies to cigarettes, cigars, pipes (including electronic and e-cigarettes) and vape pens or e-cigars.

VA reviewed research on second- and third-hand smoke and best practices in the health care industry, then modernized its policy. The policy allows VA to protect the health and well-being of VA staff, patients and the public. It’s part of VA’s commitment to provide excellent health care for Veterans and their families. The policy also applies to all electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) not approved by the Federal Drug Administration.

Overwhelming evidence shows smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke create significant medical risks. A growing body of evidence shows exposure to third-hand smoke creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care.

More information about the health risks associated with smoking is available at the U.S. Surgeon General website.

Resources for quitting

Veterans who want to quit smoking have resources available through VA. Employees can contact their facility for resources to quit smoking. For information about the closest VA location, go to https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp

More tools and tips are available at the Smokefree Veteran websiteSmokefreeVET is a text messaging program that provides 24/7 support to help military Veterans quit tobacco for good.Smokefree Veteran website

VHA offers extensive resources and programs to assist Veterans in their smoke-free journey.

Note: National Association of Government employees will begin implementing the policy Oct. 1 and have until Jan. 1, 2020, to fully comply.

Author

Hans Petersen

Hans Petersen is senior writer-editor for Digital Media, VHA Office of Communications. An Air Force Veteran, Hans also served two years in the Peace Corps and worked for 20 years in broadcasting before joining VA.

Comments

  1. Charles Thomas    

    They should let smokers just kill themselves. That’s what they are prepared to do. I guess it’s because they don’t want your second hand smoke killing someone else. That’s fair, ain’t it? Personally, I just quit after 43 years. I’ve had cancer, a stroke and an abdominal aortic aneurysm. I figured I had been through enough shit. A heart attack is all I haven’t had of the three big boys , hopefully I might avoid it a greater while.I just made a logical decision for a change instead of just saying you’re going to die with something.

  2. Mac Archer    

    I’m a Non-smoking Vet and realize that the policy just went into effect, but we’ve all known for many years that even second-hand is classified as a Class A Carcinigen … yes the Truth is it causes cancer & other health problems, duh, so I called security onsite @ HCC KERNERSVILLE, NC because I, and all vets (& accompanying families) CONTINUE to have to ‘WALK THRU A CLOUD-OF-HOSTILE-SMOKE just to enter the facility due to smokers always present on benches in front of its Main Entrance.

    Not ‘Nark-ing’ on other vets, but ‘C’Mon Man, Have-A-Heart Dudes!’ … if you gotta, smoke in your truck!

    Security acted like there’s little they can do, besides waiting for What?! … people to call 911 when someone’s hav’in a drag on a bench? If it didn’t cause me such physical health stress I’d like most people just bear-thru…

    Hey maybe us NON smokers could enjoy breathing the fresh & Godly fall North Carolina air sitting on one of those special new front benches too!? If you ARE a smoker, I hope you decide to quit for your better physical & financial health, but you Can Not understand the Offense, so please spare us your false/inappropriate 14teen-like outrage. (Not all veterans are considerate).

    I Believe a Good Change is Coming! Thanks

  3. Michael R Spiegel    

    Just watched a recent NCIS episode re: homeless vets. Depicted the VA debacle re: where actual monies go; to private enterprises. Watch it, quite real portrayal. I smoke & a vet. We’re all just a “chart”, a number.

  4. Gary Lundberg    

    Some veteran wants to take a slight bit of pleasure from a cigarette in their car and some beurocrat has the audacity to take that little bit of pleasure from them. They already took our sanity and physical well being, I guess our civilian happiness was next on the chopping block.

  5. Sofia Bianchi    

    You smokers sure do whine a lot. Smoke. Somewhere. Else.

  6. Autie Kelley    

    I am now almost 30 days of no smoking. I began smoking when I was 18 years old while I was in Vietnam with the 1st Cavalry division in 1968. Cigarettes were given to us freely on a daily basis by the US Army. Strange that it was safe to smoke cigarettes then. Not once did I hear anyone complain about secondhand smoke. I did hear a lot of complaints about secondhand shrapnel.
    Autie Kelley

  7. JOHN M ELLIOTT    

    GOD knows, I want to quit smoking. It’s costly and nasty. The amount of money I spend on cigs is ridiculous and the detriment to my health is obvious (and costly). I didn’t smoke before joining the Army. After a 2-3 mile run…”smoke em if you got em.” Only .75 a pack! Now $5+ a pack. While in the field, a smoke break was better than the green eggs and ham. I think the “new Army” has no smoking policy? I have tried to quit. It was the hardest thing ever and sadly did not work. It is mental and mostly physical addiction. Someday I will try again if it doesn’t kill me first. I hate nicotine.

  8. JOHN M ELLIOTT    

    GOD knows, I want to quit smoking. It’s costly and nasty. The amount of money I spend on cigs is ridiculous and the detriment to my health is obvious (and costly). I didn’t smoke before joining the Army. After a 2-3 mile run…”smoke em if you got em.” Only .75 a pack! Now $5+ a pack. While in the field, a smoke break was better than the green eggs and ham. I think the “new Army” has no smoking policy? I have tried to quit. It was the hardest thing ever and sadly did not work. It is mental and mostly physical addiction. Someday I will try again if it doesn’t kill me first. I hate nicotine.

  9. Daniel E Stanczak, Ph.D.    

    Since when does the VA have the ability to regulate the air over it’s campus? Please provide me documentation of that regulatory source. It is Trumpian to think, apparently a thought originating in someone’s “gut” I presume, to think that prohibiting smoking outside often in below freezing temperatures, will result in improved health. There is absolutely no empirical data to support such an assertion (and after all, the VA only offers evidence based treatments, right?). And what evidence does the VA provide to support the presumption that smoking in one’s POV will result in diminished health for other VA patrons? Is the VA going to prohibit other air-borne pollutants, and any associated alleged heath risks, from being released into the air over VA campuses? To further amplify the irrationality of this new regulation, I understand that VA employees will be allowed to continue smoking on campus. I urge my fellow vets to refuse to comply with this illegal directive until such time that the VA demonstrates empirically that a significant health benefit will result. As for smoking cessation “treatments” offered, such treatments have a very low success rates. I should know; I provided such “treatments” at both Army and VA hospitals. In summary, I intend to violate this new policy, because it is illegal, empirically unsupported, and will, in all probability, discourage vets from seeking treatment for other health problems. This will then lead to reduced numbers of clinic visits which, in turn, will lead to closure of some VA facilities. This, in turn, will lead to increased privatization of service delivery and increased cost of service delivery. It appears to me that this poorly conceived action will ultimately benefit private health care executives at the expense of veterans’ health.

  10. Thomas Martin. Barosko, Jr.    

    Mr Hans didn’t do his homework. All he has done is re-print what the VA has told him to say. Mr Hans please stop using the rubber stamp message that the “VA cares about your health.” Because of the VA’s lack of care I went back to being a smoker. The VA started to help and I was doing very well. Then the VA terminated my use of medication. With that I returned to being a smoker.

  11. Timothy D cobb    

    The Veterans Administration and hospitals change policies all time
    it does not benefit the veteran quality-of-life . it’s there choice and hospitals let them.vote on policies
    80% of the people who works at the hospitals don’t give a s*** about the veterans everytime veteran say something to the Administration they ignored it

  12. William Garland McClure jr    

    I’m a smoker that has begged my doctors to help me stop smoking I have tried everything gum patches lasingders nothing works I asked too be put on chantix but no because of a notation in my records that should not be their oh well I guess I’ll have to take my chances

  13. William Garland McClure jr    

    I’m a smoker that has begged my doctors to help me stop smoking I have tried everything gum patches lasingders nothing works I asked too be put on chantix but no because of a notation in my records that should not be their oh well I guess I’ll have to take my chances

  14. William Garland McClure jr    

    I’m a smoker that has begged my doctors to help me stop smoking I have tried everything gum patches lasingders nothing works I asked too be put on chantix but no because of a notation in my records that should not be their oh well I guess I’ll have to take my chances

  15. 123    

    I have been denied 3 different times for VA benefits since 1979 when 1st filed, Last Denial was a few years ago, Now at age 69 it has gone bad… The Claim was from loss of hearing from Aircraft engines (aircraft crew chief – AFSC) the doctors just laughed at me , Although I fought the stupid Political Vietnam War and now you are “denying me the right of freedom of choice”, in Gods eyes that problem is on your back…Because I don’t give a Care or thought about these so called Panhandlers that think it is Rude to smoke if front of others, Take the VA and…….
    it’s not there to help you, VA It is not here to help you only to show you how powerful they are.

  16. jerry    

    nobody should have to put up with smoking. Its unhealthy and a nuisance.

  17. prks    

    Why in H—- is it that you nonsmokers just cannot stay the f—- out of outside smoking areas? I’m not smoking in your house, stay away from my smoking area.

  18. John P Miles    

    Will the designated smoking areas be closed? If you want to be smoke free, stay outta the designated smoking area.

  19. Dr. Gant    

    I fought for this country and was wounded April 21, 1969. Because of that I am severly disabled. Now you are going to tell me I cannot smoke at or near the VA Hospital I choose for care! Since I am a smoker you gonna prohibit me from burial in Arlington? Looks like the VietNam syndrome never stopped did it! We are just cannon fodder for the dogooders!

    1. Drh    

      100% agree. Am disabled nam vet, also have ptsd, smoking helps me get through my horrible daily life, what there is left of it. Smoking is part of being disabled. I wonder if ADA, Americans disibility act would apply?

    2. Drh drh    

      100% agree. Am disabled nam vet, also have ptsd, smoking helps me get through my horrible daily life, what there is left of it. Smoking is part of being disabled. I wonder if ADA, Americans disibility act would apply?

    3. Dr pywackett    

      100% agree. Am disabled nam vet, also have ptsd, smoking helps me get through my horrible daily life, what there is left of it. Smoking is part of being disabled. I wonder if ADA, Americans disibility act would apply?

    4. Dr pywackett    

      100% agree. Am disabled nam vet, also have ptsd, smoking helps me get through my horrible daily life, what there is left of it. Smoking is part of being disabled. I wonder if ADA, Americans disibility act would apply?

  20. Nancy Fezler    

    Why are you limiting your efforts to just “smoke free”? Why not “tobacco free” as other forms of tobacco use are equally damaging and frankly, very disgusting? Please rethink your campaign and place your efforts where they will be most effective.

    1. BOYD Herrst    

      You can get niccorette lozenges, maybe that can help until you get off campus. Check the VA px to see if they have them.

    2. John Miles    

      Did you read the notice??

  21. George Hilton    

    You cannot even smoke inside your own private vehicle if you are on VA property. If you get caught the VA thugs will have you on the ground in a heartbeat, handcuffs and all and they’ll probably impound your vehicle. I bet they are salivating just waiting to pounce on the first offender. It’s not going to stop people from smoking, the Army got us hooked and now you think we’ll just stop because you say so? That’s like trying to get the bad guys to give up their guns……good luck with that.

  22. Stacia McDonald    

    There may be unintended consequences. What if a patient or visitor refuses? Gonna arrest ’em? Some of our patients are permanent residents, who pay rent. Some are going through alcohol or drug withdrawl. Best of luck.

  23. Kenneth Greene    

    Here in Chicago, it’s illegal to smoke inside any business (which includes the VA) or within 15 feet of any entrance.

  24. Tracy L Jones    

    Does this mean the outside smoking areas will be gone?

  25. Junkers Calderas    

    Smoke free is the best for health and well being. I quit smoking 20 years ago and I am very happy about it

    1. Stacia McDonald    

      And those who are in hospice, who’d like a cigarrette? Not gonna change their due date.

    2. Glanda Widger    

      Well goody for you but not everyone can do that. Some are addicted. but oh how often I have had to listen to the sanctimonious ranting of a former smoker. It’s not willpower fella it’s genetic makeup. Just like some can drink socially and quit whenever they want to, but some people get addicted to booze and nothing short of a miraculous happening makes them stop. My ex is 75 and still a drunk and a smoker even though he has been in rehab a dozen times.. I am 72 and started smoking again after 8 years when my husband died. I would love to quit but so far nothing has worked. You have to have a dynamic reason to stop when addicted. So save your patting yourself on the back for someone who cares.

    3. Gary Lundberg    

      Oh great… a self-righteous ex -smoker. Surprise!

Comments are closed.