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December 16, 2009

Tobacco Control in VA Hospitals

JAMA. 2009;302(23):2551-2552. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1830

To the Editor: In their Commentary on unfinished business in tobacco control, Drs Samet and Wipfli1 did not mention a glaring piece of unfinished business in US federal tobacco control policy. US Code 38 USC §1715 (Tobacco for Hospitalized Veterans), also known as Public Law No. 102-585, precludes any Veterans Affairs (VA) facility from becoming completely smoke-free.2,3 It requires VA hospitals to establish “suitable” indoor smoking areas with appropriate heating and air conditioning. In Oregon, patients cannot smoke in bars and restaurants but can go to the VA hospital to do so. The Portland VA Medical Center has a committee dedicated to making the campus as smoke-free as possible, but as a federal facility it is limited by the federal law.

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