Sorry, but there's no smoking at VA hospitals anymore

Health & Fitness

A cigarette

(U.S. Navy/Petty Officer 1st Class RJ Stratchko)

Editor's Note: This article by Amy Bushatz originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

All Department of Veterans Affairs health care facilities will be completely smoke-free by October, with all forms of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes and vaping, banned from facility grounds, officials announced in a news release Monday.

The policy change, first published by the Veterans Health Administration in early March, ends the use of designated smoking areas or shelters at VA hospitals.


"Although VA has historically permitted smoking in designated areas, there is growing evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke creates significant medical risks, and risks to safety and direct patient care, that are inconsistent with medical requirements and limitations," officials said in the release. "Accordingly, VA's Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has collaborated with key stakeholders to update and recertify the policy to be consistent with the department's commitment to Veterans and the community."

The change applies to everyone at VA facilities, including patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and staff, officials said.

In situations where the VA facility is co-located with a Defense Department hospital, the VA's new policy will be followed only on VA-controlled grounds, the policy notes. DoD hospitals often still allow smoking in designated areas.

Both the VA and Defense Department offer smoking cessation assistance to patients -- a sensible benefit given that, until 1975, the Pentagon still included cigarettes in rations issued to troops.

Commissaries and military exchanges also continue to sell tobacco and tobacco products. Although federal law requires that it be sold for prices comparable to those available off base, the price point used by commissaries and exchanges is based on a market snapshot and often ends up being lower than that of off-base competitors.

About 14 percent of active-duty troops consider themselves occasional smokers, according to data released by the DoD early this year.

According to a 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly three in 10 military veterans used some kind of tobacco product between 2010 and 2015, and tobacco use among veterans significantly outpaces that among civilian peers.

This article originally appeared on Military.com

More articles from Military.com:

SEE ALSO: A New Bill Would Raise The Tobacco Purchase Age To 21, Military Included

The number of U.S. troops diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury following Iran's missile attack on Al- Asad Air Base in Iraq now stands at 50, the Defense Department announced on Tuesday.

Read More
"You gotta be shitting me." (Antiques Roadshow)

There's nothing quite like finding out that the nifty little trinket you blew a paycheck on when you were a junior enlisted service member is actually worth three-quarters of a million dollars. (Take that every SNCO who ever gave a counseling statement on personal finances.)

Read More

The long-awaited Special Operations Command's ethics review has finally been released, which argues that there is no "systemic ethics problem" in the special operations community while acknowledging a range of underlying problems stemming from a high operations tempo and insufficient leadership.

Read More

John Kelly, the retired Marine general who worked as President Trump's chief of staff for more than 16 months, told a crowd in Sarasota, Florida on Monday that he trusted John Bolton and thinks he should testify in the Senate impeachment trial.

"If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton," Kelly said during a town hall lecture series, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, mentioning claims in a forthcoming memoir by Trump's former national security advisor that the president told him a freeze on military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on the country opening an investigation into the Bidens.

Read More
U.S. Army/Sgt. Daphney Black

While the Army is making strides at Fort Wainwright with hopes of improving the quality of life at the base and stopping suicide, Army leaders are also reminding soldiers of one simple thing that could make a difference: Get to know your teammates, and look out for one another.

Read More