Smoking and vaping will no longer be allowed at Veterans Affairs (VA) health care centers across the country starting in October, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday.
Historically, permitted designated smoking areas were available at VA facilities. The new policy will limit smoking of all kinds, including cigarettes and electronic vape pens.
In announcing the policy change, the VA cited growing evidence that smoke exposure causes significant medical risks.
The ban is popular among VA hospital officials, according to the announcement. A recent VA survey found about 85 percent of facility leadership support smoke-free campuses.
“We are not alone in recognizing the importance of creating a smoke-free campus,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in the release. “As of 2014, 4,000 health care facilities and four national health care systems in the U.S. have implemented smoke-free grounds.”
The new policy will pertain to patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors.
“This policy change coincides with additional VHA efforts to help us become the provider of choice for Veterans and the reason why Veterans will ChooseVA,” Wilkie said.