Kaine Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Make U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Smoke-Free
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States—killing more than 480,000 people annually—and there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. As such, the overwhelming majority of America’s private health care systems and facilities, most Department of Defense medical facilities, and all federal government buildings, are smoke-free. Yet there are nearly 1,000 designated indoor or outdoor smoking spaces at VHA facilities across the country—at least one in every state. In addition to the health concerns, such spaces are difficult to maintain and cost the VA more than $1.2 million annually. The VA recently determined that continuing to provide smoke areas on VHA property was not sustainable, and issued VHA Directive 1085 to institute a smoke-free policy by October 1, 2019. However, Congressional action is still necessary to repeal the 1992 law and codify VA efforts.
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