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Department of Veterans Affairs announces facilities will go smoke-free

Beginning in October 2019

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) announced this week that it will adopt a smoke-free policy for patients, visitors, contractors, volunteers, and other vendors at all DVA health care facilities. 

The updated policy directive will take effect this October and will prohibit the use of all cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and non-Federal Drug Administration approved e-cigarettes. This announcement is welcome news given the substantial evidence of the harm of secondhand smoke.

A statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:

“We applaud the Department of Veterans Affairs for issuing a new directive that will allow our nation’s veterans to breathe smoke-free air at all health facilities managed by the department. Eliminating designated smoking areas in DVA facilities will ensure thousands of veterans avoid exposure to the dangers of secondhand smoke while seeking the care they need. In addition to ensuring our veterans are breathing smoke-free air, the new directive also guarantees physicians, nurses, volunteers, and visitors will be working in, or visiting, a smoke-free environment.

“We appreciate that the DVA’s updated policy will also prohibit the use of any e-cigarette that has not been approved by the FDA as a cessation device. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the aerosol from an e-cigarette is not harmless. It can contain harmful, and potentially harmful, chemicals including nicotine; ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs; flavoring such diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease; volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust; and heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.

“Ensuring those who have served our country breathe clean, smoke-free air at health care facilities is something we owe our veterans. We must also continue our advocacy for other proven measures to end the scourge of tobacco product use for all communities. The most effective way to tackle the devastating public health effects of tobacco use is through significant tobacco tax increases, fully funding tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the state and federal level, and comprehensive smoke-free policies like those announced by the DVA."

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