Wenstrup Introduces Legislation to Make VA 100% Smoke-Free
Washington, D.C. – Today, House Veterans’ Affairs Health Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) introduced H.R. 1662 to prohibit smoking in any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility. Under this legislation, smoking would be banned inside VHA facilities immediately and outside VHA facilities within five years.
“Exposure to secondhand smoke puts veteran patients at unnecessary risk. This common sense reform mitigates that risk by requiring VHA facilities to become 100% smoke-free within five years,” said Wenstrup, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. “As a doctor and veteran myself, ensuring that those who I have served alongside receive the best possible care is personal to me. But I believe it should be personal to every American. The least we can do for those who fought for us is ensure they receive the same considerations and treatments at the VA, as they would in the private-sector.”
“The health and well-being of our nation’s heroes should always come first,” said Roe, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “This commonsense legislation would bring VA’s smoking policies into the 21st Century, ensuring veteran patients receive the same considerations as patients in the private-sector.”
Background: According to VA, only 20 percent of veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are smokers. Many non-smoking veteran patients are at an increased risk for cardiovascular events associated with exposure to secondhand smoke. The VHA currently provides 971 outdoor designated smoking areas and 15 indoor designated smoking areas, as required by the Veterans Health Care Act of 1992. In contrast, smoking is prohibited in non-VA federal facilities, indoor military facilities and in most private-sector national healthcare systems.
Resources: The VA provides a variety of smoking cessation resources for veterans looking to quit smoking, including medications, counseling, and online support on VA’s website and mobile apps. The department also offers free over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy medications to its employees. Additionally, The National Cancer Institute has a veteran-centric smoking cessation website, “SmokefreeVET,” which provides resources on reasons to quit, how to quit, and quitting smokeless tobacco. For immediate assistance, veterans are encouraged to call the VA’s smoking “quit line” for support from a smoking cessation counselor at: 1-855-784-8838 (1-800-QUIT-VET).
Congressman Brad Wenstrup has served in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1998, currently holding the rank of Colonel. In 2005-2006, he served a tour in Iraq as a combat surgeon, and was awarded a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for his service. During his time in Congress, Brad is fulfilling his Reserve duties by treating patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
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