The Veterans Health Administration announced as part of its commitment to provide excellent health care for veterans, under VHA Directive 1085, the department will implement a new policy restricting smoking by patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors at its health care facilities by 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 Veterans Health Administration 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 want to increase the high-quality of care to our veterans by creating a smoke-free campus by eliminating exposures to secondhand smoke and other tobacco products that may present harm to our veterans,” said Director Vince Kane, who oversees the Wilmington VAMC and its five outpatient clinics in Delaware and southern New Jersey.

The Wilmington VA Medical Center and its five outpatient clinics include Dover and Georgetown, Delaware, and Northfield, Cape May and Vineland, New Jersey, are scheduled to go smoke-free by Oct. 1.

VHA’s new smoke-free policy applies to cigarettes, cigars, pipes, any other combustion of tobacco and non-Federal Drug Administration approved electronic nicotine delivery systems, including but not limited to electronic or e-cigarettes, vape pens or e-cigars.

Veterans who want to stop using nicotine products can contact the VA Quit Line at 855-784-8838 or text “VET” to 47848.

The Wilmington VA Medical Center, 1601 Kirkwood Highway, offers smoking cessation classes from 10 to 11 a.m. every Tuesday on the seventh floor to eligible veterans, no consult needed.

For more, visit veterans.smokefree.gov.