No more smoking at VA hospitals – including e-cigs and vaping – agency announces

Abbie Bennett
June 10, 2019 - 3:51 pm

Photo by Lance Cpl. Heather Johnson, Marine Expeditionary Force

The Department of Veterans Affairs has officially outlawed smoking at its health care facilities.

The department announced the new policy restricting smoking by patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors at its facilities would go into effect by October. 

The new policy doesn't just cover cigarettes -- it also includes cigars, pipes and "any other combustion of tobacco and non-Federal Drug Administration approved electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including but not limited to electronic or e-cigarettes, vape pens or e-cigars." 

The VA previously allowed smoking at certain hospitals and other medical facilities in designated areas, but "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," the department said in a news release Monday.

A recent VA survey showed that about 85 percent of VA medical leaders support smoke-free campuses, according to the release.

“We are not alone in recognizing the importance of creating a smoke-free campus,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “As of 2014, 4,000 health care facilities and four national health care systems in the U.S. have implemented smoke-free grounds. This policy change coincides with additional VHA efforts to help us become the provider of choice for Veterans and the reason why Veterans will choose VA.”