CADILLAC — No one likes having to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke to get into a building. A new policy announced by the Veterans Health Administration aims to prevent this from happening.
On Thursday, the VHA announced it is implementing Directive 1085 Smoke-Free Policy for patients, visitors, vendors, volunteers, and contractors at VA health care facilities.
This will impact all VA medical centers, including Aleda E. Lutz VAMC and Healthcare Annex in Saginaw, and the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics in Alpena, Bad Axe, Cadillac, Cheboygan (Mackinaw City), Clare, Gaylord, Grayling, Oscoda, and Traverse City.
Carrie Seward, VA public affairs officer, said the implementation of this directive will be different for each VA clinic, depending on the building design and layout.
To be clear, smoking inside the clinic already is banned; the directive pertains to smoking outside the building.
Details on how the directive will impact the VA clinic in Cadillac will be announced in the near future and signs will be posted to let people know about it.
"This policy change coincides with additional VHA efforts to help us become the provider of choice for veterans," according to a VA press release. "This new policy of no smoking at VA health care facilities will be effective on October 1, 2019."
"There is currently overwhelming evidence that smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke creates significant medical risks, and a growing body of evidence that exposure to thirdhand smoke creates additional risks to safety and direct patient care. To fulfill our commitment to Veterans, we must be mindful of situations which are harmful to their health and the wellbeing of our patients, staff, and members of the public. We offer a number of smoking cessation classes and various treatment alternatives are available. We encourage veterans and staff to participate in the resources available to ensure their success."
Veterans may discuss these options with their VA provider or contact the Health Behavioral Coordinator at (989) 497-2500, Extension 12454.
According to the release, as of 2014, 4,000 health care facilities and four national health care systems in the U.S. have implemented smoke-free grounds. Additionally, many Department of Defense facilities, as well as some VHA facilities have already established a smoke-free campus.
"We are collaborating with key stakeholders, including facility and Veterans Integrated Service Network directors, to recertify and update policy consistent with our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our community," the VA stated. "In the coming months, we will work with our experts and facility leaders to develop facility implementation plans and resources to fully implement this policy on October 1, 2019."