TEMPLE, TX — The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System has officially taken its first steps toward becoming smoke-free.
On Saturday, the team at the VA campus in Temple demolished its first smoking shelter.
The change comes after a new directive from Capitol Hill.
"About 6 months ago, the directive from national VA came down that patients and visitors and contractors and vendors will no longer be able to smoke on campus," said Kevin Maxson, chief engineer, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.
Officials shared, the Temple VA along with the entire Veterans Health Administration is changing its smoking policy to further its commitment to provide a safe and healthy environment.
"And it's really symbolic of the VA's sort of change in mission from treating veteran's sicknesses, to behaving more like a healthcare organization and treating and addressing their health and their well being," said Maxson.
The policy covers all smoking material, including but not limited to:
· any other combustion of tobacco
· non-Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including but not limited to electronic or e-cigarettes, vape pens, or e-cigarsWith the Veterans Health
"Our mission is to promote health, not just to cure disease. So this helps us promote the health and welfare of all our visitors and veterans. So it's very meaningful to me as a physician," said Dr. Olawale Fashina, Chief of staff, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System.
The policy is scheduled to take effect on October , and there are around four more shelters left to tear down.
The Temple VA shared in a statement, "VHA fully understands that some of the people affected by this policy who engage in the, soon-to-be, prohibited activities may not agree or see this as a positive change in their lives. CTVHCS staff has been asked to be understanding of their viewpoint and feelings."
In addition, they have programs and classes in place to help people reduce the craving and urge to smoke. Anyone who is interested, is encouraged to contact Veterans Health Education at 254-743 0433.