"Smoking Ban May Strike Military"
U.S. soldiers are trained to handle deadly weapons and smoke out enemies but they may soon find that they aren't allowed to handle cigarettes and light up a smoke.
Pentagon health experts are pressing Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ban the use of tobacco by troops and ends its sale on military property, according to USA Today.
Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon's office of clinical and program policy, told the newspaper that he will advise Gates to adopt proposals by a federal study that cites rising tobacco use and higher costs for the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs as reasons for the ban.
The study by the Institute of Medicine calls for a phased-in ban over a period of perhaps up to 20 years.
"We'll certainly be taking that recommendation forward," Smith told the newspaper.
The VA and the Pentagon requested the study, which found that troops worn out by repeated deployments often rely on cigarettes as a "stress reliever." The study also found that tobacco use in the military rose after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.
Tobacco use costs the Pentagon $846 million a year in medical care and lost productivity, according to the study, which was released last month and used older data. The Department of Veterans Affairs spends up to $6 billion in treatments for tobacco-related illnesses, the study found. . . . .
Smoking both calms and increases alertness, both of which are valuable for soldiers who have to go on patrol.