San Francisco VA Health Care System
New Smoking Policy Changes Where You Can Smoke
In the spirit of VA’s mission of focusing on wellness and patient-centered care, and in support of national VA directives, our Medical Center’s smoking policy has been updated. The new policy goes into effect in March, as soon as two new outdoor smoking shelters have been installed. The policy applies to all patients, employees, visitors, volunteers and contractors, and will be enforced by campus Police.
What you should know about smoking on campus: Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC). Smoking is permitted only within the new smoking shelters. Tobacco sale is not allowed, nor is distributing smoking materials to patients.
Where are the new smoking shelters? They’re easy to find. One smoking shelter is located off Fort Miley Circle between Buildings 203 and 208, and across from building 12. The second smoking shelter is located outside the entrance of Building 7. There is a third smoking shelter for use only by patients and staff in the Community Living Center, located on the southwest side on Building 208, accessible via the ground floor.
“It became clear to Medical Center leadership that the former smoking policy was inadequate in protecting patients, employees, and vendors from the dangers of second-hand smoke, and was inconsistent with the overall mission and wellness-focus of patient-centered care,” said Timothy Carmody, PhD, staff psychologist and co-chair of the Smoke Free Environment Committee. “The new policy allows smoking only in the enclosed smoking shelters and provides more details regarding enforcement procedures.”
Why is smoking only allowed in enclosed shelters, instead of in open shelters as has been the case in the past? “Second-hand smoke negatively impacts the health of everyone who breathes in that smoke,” explained Carmody. “The old smoking shelters were open, allowing cigarette smoke to drift in any direction. The new shelters are enclosed and equipped with HVAC systems that provide heat, air conditioning, filtering of tobacco smoke, and surveillance cameras for safety.”
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of premature death and a leading cause of illness and mortality. That said, about 70 percent of all smokers say they want to quit. So why hasn’t everybody quit? It’s not easy. Even the most motivated may try five or six times before they’re successful. The good news is, over 3 million Americans successfully stop smoking every year.
Here are some tobacco cessation services we offer to enrolled Veterans and employees:
• Medications and counseling for smoking cessation: Ask your SFVAMC provider.
• Smoking Cessation Clinic: Ask your provider for a referral or contact Bill Clift (415-221-4810, ext. 2826).
• TeleQuit for Veterans: Ask your provider for a referral.
• TeleQuit for Employees: Contact Occupational Health Service (ext. 2735).
• California Smokers’ Helpline: 800-NO-BUTTS (800-622-8887).
• Quit smoking facts and tools: www.ucanquit2.org.
What if I’m interested in other healthy lifestyle changes? Watch for announcements on the electronic message boards throughout the Medical Center about various wellness activities such as yoga, walking/fitness, massage, and meditation. You can also contact your health care team for information on nutrition, weight management, safety, eating wisely, screenings and vaccines, limiting alcohol, managing stress, and more.