Tuesday, July 28, 2009

U.S. military considering a smoking ban in the future

A panel on tobacco use in the military suggested banning smoking on bases as a method to reduce tobacco use in the military.

If Defense Secretary Robert Gates accepts the suggestion, it would be a far cry from times past when soldiers received a few cigarettes along with their ration of food and supplies.

Many people are skeptical that a ban on smoking would work, with the prevalence of smokers in the military. Twenty-two percent of VA patients are smokers, as are 33 percent of active duty troops.

However, the advisory panel chairman Stuart Bondurant said the military could gradually reduce smoking over about 20 years by not allowing smokers into the military.

"If the services take the full 20 years, practically everyone now in the military would be retired," Bondurant said.

According to the report, as detailed in a Chicago Tribune article, the military is stuck with a $846 million annual bill for tobacco related medical care and lost productivity.

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