As we reflect upon Veterans’ Day this November, we want to thank all of our members and advocates that have bravely served our country. We commemorate your service by continuing to advocate for freedom from secondhand smoke and guaranteeing the right for all to breathe smokefree air. Our friends in Pennsylvania, the statewide Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), have taken leadership on smokefree air.

Pennsylvania State Commander – Thomas Hanzes made these remarks at a September 11th press conference which was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Pennsylvania statewide partial smokefree law. The Commander spoke to the loopholes and exemptions – specifically calling out decision makers not to exempt private clubs in order to protect all veterans:

“The Department of Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars believes it’s time to stop all indoor smoking. We believe this, in part, because the Center for Disease Control warns that second-hand smoke from those who still smoke increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke for everyone.

All veterans should feel welcome in their VFW Post, and coming into their canteen should not endanger their health through secondhand smoke.

While the Pennsylvania VFW respects the rights of veterans to smoke, we also respect the rights of the many more veterans who do not smoke. Statistics show that more than 80% of the nation’s population does not smoke. The shrinking number of persons who still smoke only need to take a few steps to a designated smoking area to light up.

We want to attract and support not only veterans of all ages, but also their family members. The VFW cares about and supports entire families of veterans and military personnel, so we want them to feel welcome inside our Posts.

Let’s eliminate the smoking exemption in all clubs to protect our veterans, their families, and canteen employees from preventable health risks. An across-the-board removal of the exemption will protect the financial stability of all service organizations while providing a healthier environment.”