Words By S.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

In the news today…

Filed under: News,Politics,Popular Culture — S @ 9:41 am

Study recommends total ban on smoking for soldiers

  • Story Highlights
  • Military health experts propose ban on tobacco use by soldiers
  • Study: Tobacco use impairs military readiness, later lead to serious health issues
  • New study also calls for ban on the sale of tobacco products on bases
From Chris Lawrence
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — You’ve seen the iconic picture of a soldier with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, but that could soon be a thing of the past.

The Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale and use of tobacco in the military.

The Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale and use of tobacco in the military.

A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle.

According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.

The Defense Department’s top health officials are studying the report’s suggestions and will make recommendations to the Pentagon’s policy team and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The study recommends phasing out tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars over a five- to 10-year period.

However, the suggested ban does not sit well with many in uniform, including retired Gen. Russel Honore, best known for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas with an ever-present stogie. He said soldiers at war need to puff.

“When you’re tired and you’ve been going days on end with minimum sleep, and you are not getting the proper meals on time, that hit of tobacco can make a difference,” said Honore, who was in charge of the Army’s training programs before he retired.

Other soldiers questioned whether this was a good time to stamp out smoking, given the Army’s concern with a high suicide rate.

“For some, unfortunately, they feel that smoking is their stress relief. Well if you take it away, what is the replacement?” said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Johnson.

The Pentagon supports the goal of a tobacco-free military, said spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

“However, achieving that goal will depend on coincident reductions of tobacco use in the civilian population,” she said.

Dr. Ken Kizer, the author of the study, found that civilians don’t smoke as much as soldiers. One in three active duty soldiers smoke, he said, adding that among the general population, that number is less than one in five.

The Pentagon banned smoking in buildings on bases years ago. It has counselors on call to help service members quit. But while local governments have heavily taxed tobacco, the commissaries often sell it at deeply discounted prices.

“The military sends very mixed signals,” Kizer said. “This is what’s confusing to people.”

The study found that profits from those tobacco sales — $80 million to $90 million — often pay for recreation and family programs on base.

Article found at: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/12/military.smoking.ban/index.html

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Where do I even begin with this one?

Well, to start:

– I am not a regular smoker – meaning I only smoke when I am under extreme stress or when I am socially drinking.

– I have never (nor will I ever) been in the military

That said, I do not agree at all with the idea of this.

You want to take smoking out of bars, clubs, and restaurants?  Fine, great!  It makes my meal better not having to be around clouds of smoke, and when I go out (and don’t partake in tobacco puffing), I enjoy not smelling of smoke after.

You want to take smoking out of the vicinity of hospitals, fantastic.  But wait… with that comes banning it from locked, inpatient, psychiatric facilities where patients don’t want to be, and use nicotine as a stress reliever from their problems?  Weeeeeell… okay.

You want to limit outdoor places people can smoke?  I guess that’s okay.

You want to ban smoking from the military?  Huh?!

That about sums up my reaction to the multiple stages in the smoking ban saga.

The reason I feel that tobacco, in any form, shouldn’t even be raised as an issue in the military is quite simple, really – these are people being sent into harm’s way, knowing that at any moment, they may never return to their families.  If ever there were a time to smoke like your life depended on it, well… I would think that would be it.

There are a couple of quotes from the article that screamed at me, and I will highlight them here:

Dr. Ken Kizer, the author of the study, found that civilians don’t smoke as much as soldiers. One in three active duty soldiers smoke, he said, adding that among the general population, that number is less than one in five.

Well, Dr. Ken Kizer, OF COURSE civilians don’t smoke nearly as much as active duty soldiers!  I think that the stress that I consider to be extreme is absolutely nothing compared to what stresses soldiers face.  After all, I’m not removed my friends and family to be sent somewhere where I will be shot at, spat at, unappreciated for my efforts, and what have you.  Nor am I ever in the place to be used as a pawn for my government’s agenda.

The Pentagon supports the goal of a tobacco-free military, said spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

Of course “the pentagon” would.  It’s a giant office building on US grounds where their inhabitants don’t actually face the dangers of combat.

The study found that profits from those tobacco sales — $80 million to $90 million — often pay for recreation and family programs on base

Right, so let’s just rip that away.  Who else is going to pay for those programs?  Certainly not the Pentagon.

I’m quite certain that every single person with the ability to read and comprehend is fully aware of the dangers of smoking.  Using that as a reason for putting a ban on the activity is fairly weak.

I would like to know the real reasoning behind this idea.

Clearly, the people who propose ideas like this don’t think about the factors that contribute to why smoking is done in venues as mentioned above.   And I have to wonder, why the government jumps on the agenda pushing of these groups.

I’d be curious to know what anyone who is or has ever been in the military thinks about this.

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