All Veterans Affairs health care facilities in Alaska are now smoke-free following a nationwide policy change.

The smoking ban impacts all VA facilities and applies to employees, patients, visitors, contractors, volunteers and vendors.

According to the Associated Press, smoking was already prohibited inside VA medical buildings, but now patients, employees and visitors will not be able to smoke anywhere on the grounds. Previously, smoking was allowed in designated shelters around VA medical facilities. The smoking ban was first announced this summer, but went into effect on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Alaska VA Healthcare System issued the following statement after the announcement:

"In keeping with Veterans Affairs' (VA) commitment to providing excellent health care to Veterans, reducing all hazardous health exposures associated with smoking through the reduction of secondhand and thirdhand smoke exposure is pivotal to providing the highest quality healthcare service."

Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or any other combustion of tobacco, as well as e-cigarettes, vape pens and e-cigars, are no longer allowed thanks to the new policy.

By creating a smoke-free environment, the spokesperson says the Alaska VA Healthcare System enhances the ability to provide necessary services for veterans by relieving health risks associated with secondhand smoke exposure.

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