Legislation introduced this week by Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) would prohibit smoking in any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility. Wenstrup is also the Chairman of the House VA Health Subcommittee.
Per the terms of the bill (H.R. 1662), smoking would be immediately banned inside of VHA facilities and would be banned outside of the facilities within five years.
Wenstrup notes in a press release that 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. However, smoking is currently prohibited in non-VA federal facilities, indoor military facilities and many private-sector healthcare systems.
“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. “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.”