The Department of Veterans Affairs, which operates clinics locally just outside Eglin Air Force, and in Pensacola, Panama City and Mobile, Alabama, is banning smoking at all of its health care facilities, according to a VA news release.
The upcoming bans will also apply to “vaping,” the use of electronic cigarettes equipped with nicotine vapor cartridges.
The ban will become effective in two stages. First, as of Oct. 1, smoking will be prohibited for patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors. The policy had not originally applied to employees, but a recent agreement between the VA and the American Federation of Government Employees, the union representing VA healthcare workers, makes the smoking ban effective for employees no later than January of next year, according to media reports.
“The integration of these two efforts guarantees a fully smoke-free environment for veterans,” the VA said in its news release noting the coming two-stage ban on all smoking.
In a statement, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the smoking ban “is consistent with our mission to promote a healthy environment for patients, visitors and employees at our facilities and is an important element of improving our health care system. It will reduce the harmful effects of smoking, including exposure to second and third-hand smoke, as well as increase safety and reduce fire hazards caused by smoking.”
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