United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Bay Pines VA Healthcare System

Bay Pines VA to tighten tobacco use restrictions Oct 1

October 1, 2012

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Bay Pines VAHCS "Be Tobacco Free" Logo - Green 3D image of a human discarding a cigarette

Changes come as part of policy change and system-wide campaign to promote tobacco cessation

BAY PINES, FL – In support of the organization's commitment to "Be Tobacco Free," the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will tighten tobacco use restrictions at the main Bay Pines VA Medical Center (VAMC) campus in St. Petersburg and at all of the system’s  outpatient clinic locations beginning October 1.

The restrictions come as part of the healthcare system's revamped tobacco use policy and corresponding campaign to promote tobacco cessation intended to move the organization towards a 100 percent tobacco-free environment. The new policy has been in effect since July 1.

The revised system policy prohibits tobacco use of any kind by employees, patients, contractors and visitors on all Bay Pines VA owned or leased properties except in designated smoking areas. The Bay Pines "Be Tobacco Free" campaign will be an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the effects of tobacco use through education and the promotion of tobacco cessation resources and support. 

Dr. Glenn Rechtine, Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Bay Pines VAHCS, said he hopes to see tobacco use decline dramatically across the system as a result of the policy and subsequent enforcement efforts.  

"This is an important and necessary step to safeguard the health of our Veterans, their families, and all of our dedicated health care providers and employees who visit and work here," Rechtine said.

"As a public institution charged with the health and welfare of our Nation's heroes, it is our duty to provide an environment conducive to health and healing. By offering a health care setting that is virtually tobacco-free, we are limiting exposure to second-hand smoke; a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and other serious complications, and it is an important trigger for those trying to quit smoking," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. More Americans die each year from tobacco related illnesses than died in both theatres of World War II.  Smoking causes 20% of all deaths each year.  Half of all smokers will die from a smoking related illness.

"We take our responsibility as a steward of our Veterans' health seriously," said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VA.

"From the direct inpatient care we provide at our medical center to the multifaceted outpatient services we provide at our outpatient clinics, our goal is to ensure that our Veterans are as healthy as they can be. This updated policy and renewed focus on tobacco cessation supports that goal," she said. 

To learn more about the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System's new tobacco-free policy, please visit www.baypines.va.gov/tobaccofree. If you currently use tobacco and would like to quit, talk to your VA health care provider or visit www.publichealth.va.gov/smoking/. You can also visit Tobacco Free Florida at www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or call the Florida Quit Line at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW.