Smoke-free policy begins at VA health care facilities

Beginning Oct. 1, many smokers will no longer be able light up on the grounds of VA health care facilities.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing a new policy eliminating smoking on the premises of health care facilities for patients, visitors and employees.

The new smoke-free policy applies to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, vape pens and e-cigars. The smoking ban also extends to the parking areas.

VA leaders are citing overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks, but the smoking ban is not without opposition.

Last month, the American Federation of Government Employees filed a grievance to halt the new policy, claiming the VA had not worked with union officials on the change.

A third of veterans smoke according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many picked up the habit while serving in the military.
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