Temple: VA to ban smoking on campus

(Photo by Megan Vanselow)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) Department of Veteran Affairs heath care campuses will go smoke free nationwide on Oct. 1.

The rule comes 25 years after most hospitals in America banned smoking.

The 1992 Veterans Health Act mandated designated smoking areas at VA facilities.

The first phase applies to patients, visitors, contractors and vendors and a second phase at a later date will apply to VA staff members.

“Whatever we can do to help veterans stop smoking to better their lives and to better the lives of their families,” said Kevin Maxson the acting assistant director of the Temple VA.,

Veteran Louis Palomo, who served five years in the Marine Corps and two years in the Army, knows the addiction well.

“I started when I was 8 years old smoking and drinking often up until about six years ago,” he said.

His son inspired him to quit.

“I realized that it was affecting him. He was 3 years old at the time (and) I was devastated. I said ‘my God I can't believe this little guy wants to be like me and wants to take up my bad habits,’” Palomo said.

But quitting cold turkey as Palomo did isn’t as easy. and that’s where the VA hopes to help out.

“We provide all kinds of venues for our veterans to learn how to quit smoking because it's a very difficult task we get that,” Veteran Health Education Coordinator, Nancy Bullard, said.

The VA is helping veterans try to quit, not just by handing out patches and gum.

“We teach the classes we have tobacco cessation classes at every campus in Central Texas veterans’ healthcare system,” Bullard said.

“The whole health model is how we conduct our education classes and what that means is we're looking at the whole the whole person that's a healthier lifestyle healthier eating healthier habits better exercise better nutrition.”

“I think a lot of our veterans are on board with us here they want a quit but it'll be a challenge I believe. But we're here for the veterans to help achieve that challenge,” Bullard said.