Central Alabama VA going smoke-free

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Special to the
Opelika Observer

As they continually strive to provide excellent health care along with a safe environment at their facilities for veterans, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is implementing a new policy restricting smoking by patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors at its health care facilities effective Oct. 1.
Although VA has historically permitted smoking in designated areas, 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. Accordingly, VA’s VHA has collaborated with key stakeholders to update and recertify the policy to be consistent with the department’s commitment to veterans and the community.
“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. 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.”
In order to comply with the policy change, Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) offers its enrolled veterans the tools to assist in smoke cessation. Some of these include the Tobacco Cessation Quitline, where veterans can call for support in the process of quitting smoking; Text Messaging Program, which provides tips and support in helping quit tobacco; the Stay Quit Coach Mobile App, which is another resource and guide for adults who are already in treatment to quit smoking; as well as group classes that meet weekly at the Tuskegee, Perry Hill, Fort Rucker and Columbus locations.
Additionally, VHA has extensive resources and programs to assist veterans in their smoke-free journey. They can be found at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/quit-tobacco/.
VHA’s new smoke-free policy applies to cigarettes, 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.
For information about this matter and the policy, visit: www.va.gov/vhapublications/ViewPublication.asp?pub_ID=8242.

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