VA banning tobacco use at health care facilities

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs is increasing the push for veterans to kick the habit by banning tobacco use at VA health care facilities nationwide.

The nationwide tobacco-free mandate is to take effect by October. But the Rapid City Journal reports that Black Hills VA hospitals at Fort Meade and Hot Springs have set May 29 as the date patients, visitors, contractors, volunteers and vendors may no longer use tobacco in any form on those campuses.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Heaton says negotiations concerning implementation of the ban for employees are under way with their union, the American Federation of Government Employees.

Exceptions will also be made for use of tobacco in Native American ceremonies and traditions.