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MARION (AP) — A smoking ban at Department of Veterans Affairs' health care facilities will take effect later this year.

The smoke-free policy that begins Oct. 1 applies to patients, visitors, volunteers, contractors and vendors, and it prohibits cigarettes, cigars, pipes, vape pens and e-cigarettes.

The VA has permitted smoking in designated areas.

However, Veteran Affairs spokesman Kevin Harris says the change is taking place amid growing evidence that smoking, as well as second hand and third-hand smoke, is a medical and safety risk.

Harris says the VA is offering options for veterans who want to quit smoking. In addition to smoking cessation counseling and medications provided at VA medical centers, the agency has a tobacco quit line with advice in English and Spanish.

The VA also has an app that offers encouragement to those tempted to resume their smoking habit.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press