U.S. Military - phased in ban on smoking..

July 10, 2009 - Pentagon health experts are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end its sale on military property, a change that could dramatically alter a culture intertwined with smoking.

  During the World War I, Commander General John J. Pershing stated vehemently, “You ask me what we need to win this war…I answer tobacco as much as bullets.“ Cigarettes were sent overseas to American troops free with their rations. But now we know how dangerous the use of tobacco is; in fact, half of all individuals who keep smoking will die because of the habit. (American Cancer Society, Cigarette smoking)

Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon's office of clinical and program policy, says he will recommend that Gates adopt proposals by a federal study that cites rising tobacco use and higher costs for the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs as reasons for the ban.

The study by the Institute of Medicine, requested by the VA and Pentagon, calls for a phased-in ban over a period of years, perhaps up to 20. "We'll certainly be taking that recommendation forward," Smith says.

A tobacco ban would confront a military culture, the report says, in which "the image of the battle-weary soldier in fatigues and helmet, fighting for his country, has frequently included his lit cigarette."

Also, the report said, troops worn out by repeated deployments often rely on cigarettes as a "stress reliever." The study found that tobacco use in the military increased after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the department supports a smoke-free military "and believes it is achievable." She declined to elaborate on any possible ban.

One in three service members use tobacco, the report says, compared with one in five adult Americans. The heaviest smokers are soldiers and Marines, who have done most of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the study says. About 37% of soldiers use tobacco and 36% of Marines. Combat veterans are 50% more likely to use tobacco than troops who haven't seen combat.

Tobacco use costs the Pentagon $846 million a year in medical care and lost productivity, says the report, which used older data. The Department of Veterans Affairs spends up to $6 billion in treatments for tobacco-related illnesses, says the study, which was released late last month.

Along with a phased-in ban, the report recommends requiring new officers and enlisted personnel to be tobacco-free, eliminating tobacco use on military installations, ships and aircraft, expanding treatment programs and eliminating the sale of tobacco on military property. "Any tobacco use while in uniform should be prohibited," the study says.

The military complicates attempts to curb tobacco use by subsidizing tobacco products for troops who buy them at base exchanges and commissaries, says Kenneth Kizer, a committee member and architect of California's anti-tobacco program.
Seventy percent of profits from tobacco sales — $88 million in 2005 — pays for recreation and family support programs, the study stays.

Strong leadership could make the military tobacco-free in five to 10 years, Kizer says. President Obama, he says, could set an example for the military by ending his own smoking habit once and for all. Last month, Obama said he is "95% cured" but "there are times when I mess up" and smoke.

Reference: Ban on tobacco urged in military by Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY, 7/9/2009.

Related news brief: U.S. Department of Defense is endorsing the observance of World No Tobacco Day..



July 12, 2009 at 8:06 AM

You are going to see anarchy in this country pretty soon. Since when does the Government have the right to take away a fighting soldiers civil rights? I served this country for the freedoms it supposedly touts as it's strong points. I will support the rebellion to take this country back. A soldier can die for his country, but he can't smoke. I know for a fact that alcohol and drug treatment cost the military more money than smoking does. I, for one am a sober alcoholic, thanks to the military-they sent me twice to treatment. Alcohol treatment is expensive. The inside culture of the military is to prove your "manliness" or "toughness" if a woman on how much you can drink--I am a woman, we had to prove how "tough" we were, and if we could stand up to the pressures of military life. The military also has a problem with Domestic Violence that it does not address properly. So, a soldier or sailor can drink, beat up his wife, even kill her, but God forbid he smokes. I suggest that we get rid of these freaking idiots in Washington and replace them with people who have at least half a brain to work with. 28 years later I still deal with the after effects of Domestic Violence from two ex-husbands in the military. One, a Vietnam Vet that they labeled "Dangerous" but yet he continues to walk around without a leash. These Civilian morons need to get their head out of their azz and start dealing with reality, not the "Garden of Eden" they live in. As said before, I will support any revolution, or mutiny that comes out of this to the best of my ability, I want the Government out of my personal life and start dealing with the criminals in Washington. Better yet, start dealing with all the "fat" politicians that are costing the tax payers money for their health care.