A ban of smoking on VA health care facilities goes into effect nationwide on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

The ban, announced in June, will see designated smoking areas removed from VA campuses due to secondhand and thirdhand (tobacco residue left behind after smoking) smoke health concerns.

“Our smoke-free policy is similar to other local health care facilities’ initiatives,” said Director of the Lebanon VAMC Robert W. Callahan in a press release Sept. 24. “As Central Pennsylvania’s only health care provider serving solely Veterans, we want to promote a healthy lifestyle to all who visit our campus.”

The Lebanon VAMC policy bans patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors, and vendors from smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, vape pens, and e-cigars while on the grounds. The American Federation of Government Employees is challenging the VA on this change but a VA spokesperson said that the ban will be applicable to essentially all people who step foot on the Lebanon VA campus.

“Implementation of VA’s Smoke-Free Policy at the 170 VA medical centers around the country is specific to the memorandum of understandings and bargaining agreements in place with the Union representing employees at each specific location,” said Ted Nichols II, a public affairs specialist with the VA.

Residents are not required to stop smoking, but they may no longer do so on the grounds.

“We’re providing comprehensive resources for our employees and Veterans who want to quit smoking,” said Callahan.

An earlier version of this article cited a January 2020 date for the smoking ban becoming applicable to employees, which Lebanon VA officials said was not relevant to the Lebanon campus. AFGE confirmed this information, saying that despite a national grievance filed by the union on this issue, “it is our understanding that VA intends to implement VHA Directive 1085.01 for AFGE bargaining unit employees on October 1st.

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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