Smoke-Free VA Health Care Facilities
VA will be implementing two new policies eliminating smoking on the grounds of health care facilities by patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and employees by October 1, 2019. These new policies allow VA to ensure the health and wellness of patients, VA staff and the public.
“We are not alone in recognizing the importance of creating a smoke-free campus,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “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 smoke-free policy applies to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, any other combustion of tobacco, and e-cigarettes, vape pens and e-cigars.
VA has collaborated with key stakeholders to update and recertify the policy to be consistent with VA’s commitment to Veterans and the community.
There is overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks, as well as a growing body of evidence that exposure to thirdhand smoke creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care.
VA has extensive resources and programs to assist Veterans and employees in their smoke-free journey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can't we have designated smoking areas?
There is overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks. There is no risk-free level of exposure to tobacco smoke; it is dangerous to health even at low levels and can infiltrate barriers such as smoking shelters. There is a growing body of evidence that exposure to thirdhand smoke creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care. For instance, tobacco odors can trigger allergy or asthma reactions in others, or can trigger the desire to smoke in persons attempting to quit.
When will smoking shelters be closed?
They are planned to be closed by October 1, 2019. Each facility will independently determine the disposition of smoking areas and shelters
Can I smoke in my car?
The policies state that no smoking is allowed by patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and employees while on VA property, including parking areas.
Will I have to quit by October 1, 2019?
Becoming a smoke-free campus does not mean you have to quit. What it means is that you will not be able to smoke or use tobacco products on the grounds of VA health care facilities. However, we encourage everyone to quit because of the health benefits associated with being tobacco-free.
Does this policy include smokeless tobacco?
No, this policy does not include smokeless tobacco.