Pentagon to ban tobacco use?

posted at 5:18 pm on July 10, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The iconic image of a soldier lighting up a smoke after a battle may go the way of draft cards.  USA Today reports that the Pentagon’s health experts are pushing for a ban on smoking in every branch of the service.  They cite the high cost of providing care for smoking-related ailments:

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.

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.”

Ironically, as the article notes, the Pentagon subsidizes tobacco use on bases now by subsidizing the cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products.  That makes it less expensive to maintain the habit, and could have something to do with the fact that a higher percentage of active-duty military smoke than veterans or the civilian population of the US.  One quick method to reduce the use of tobacco would be to simply stop lowering the price artificially, but that would not stop it altogether. [See update below.]

Although this news will bring instant and justified reactions in either direction, it’s a complicated issue.  Smoking causes health issues that the VA has to spend a great deal of money treating later down the road.  They could eliminate some of that spending and perhaps apply the resources to other issues (or just save costs outright) if they stopped the smoking culture of the military entirely.  On the other hand, we ask these men and women to put their lives on the line to defend our nation and to bring liberty around the world.  Is it right to begrudge them the freedom to choose for themselves whether to use tobacco products, a right that the rest of us still have while we’re safe at home?

I’d fall on the side of letting the troops make that decision for themselves, but ending the subsidies.  What do you think?  Cast your vote in this poll:

Update: I’ve received a few e-mails rebutting the contention in USA Today that the military subsidizes tobacco on bases. What they don’t do is charge the state taxes that apply everywhere else, which eliminates the artificial price increases on the product. According to some e-mails, they may have even changed this policy; one e-mailer says that tobacco and other products are almost the same price as off-base prices.


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TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Ma’am, they probably need a smoke to chill out. Nicotine craving’s driving them up the wall.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:01 PM

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009

No, sorry,, dude,, not a smoker.
Was in the army though and I take my freedoms and everyone else’s seriously.
I think it is utter insanity to expect a soldier to go run into the middle of a combat zone, risk capture and torture on a daily basis and do all other kinds of dangerous insane things,, and then tell him or her they are not “allowed” to smoke because it’s unhealthy.

JellyToast on July 10, 2009 at 8:02 PM

I am a smoker, not proud of it and it is a severe addiction that I battle. What I do not appreciate is the stigma that has been attached to those of that do smoke like we are disgusting, dirty, stupid and it would just be soooo easy for me to quit. On one hand the stigma works, I see less younger people smoking (still guzzling down alcohol though)

Alcohol is still exceptable and in fashion.. I enjoy a drunk guy telling me how it is so gross I smoke as he downs another drink.

I am personally tired of everyone telling me how to live, what to drink, eat, drive and were my thermostat should be.

Those in the military are adults, they should be free to make their own choices.

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:02 PM

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 7:36 PM

Your “Dad” and me too, TXMomof3…
As I posted earlier; I got started with the “4-packs” in “C-rations” during “Basic Training”….

During the twenty three years I “smoked” I tried to quit a thousand times… I finally managed to quit “cold turkey” when I was forty-five.
To this day I credit my dear wife and kids for cajoling and challenging me out of their love and concern, to cease and desist.

I thank and remember their perseverance to this very day, as a cranky, living geezer at 71…!

Keep workin’ on your Daddy…!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Remember when the separation from “smoking” and “non-smoking” on TWA, Braniff, et. al., was the seat-back in front of you? Ahhhhh, the putrid stench of stale tobacco smoke recirculated through an enclosed aluminum tube traveling at 500 mph and 35,000 feet.

StimulateTHIS on July 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM

JellyToast on July 10, 2009 at 8:02 PM

Like I have said, I am against smoking bans. It is not my business what other adults choose to do with their lives. I only care about my family’s smoking habits. Don’t worry, my dad tells me to jump in the lake too. I don’t care if people smoke a carton a day. I just don’t like it in my home or car, that is my freedom and my domain.

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Remember when the separation from “smoking” and “non-smoking” on TWA, Braniff, et. al., was the seat-back in front of you? Ahhhhh, the putrid stench of stale tobacco smoke recirculated through an enclosed aluminum tube traveling at 500 mph and 35,000 feet.

StimulateTHIS on July 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Ahhh..sounds like heaven

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 8:07 PM

Those in the military are adults, they should be free to make their own choices.

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:02 PM

I agree with this. I don’t smoke and I don’t want my son to, but he’s an adult. He told me his sgt finally made him quit.

ladyingray on July 10, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Telling people with guns (and tanks and attack choppers and cruise missiles) not to smoke.

Good luck with that.

profitsbeard on July 10, 2009 at 8:09 PM

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:00 PM

Wow! Now that is something.
When I got involved in the Navy, my mom saw a picture of an aircraft carrier and asked me where the safety rails. It’s got to be hard to be a parent with your child in the military and have to trust that your child and the military will make the right decisions.
You are more than welcome and I’m happy to hear that.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:10 PM

ladyingray on July 10, 2009 at 8:08 PM

Hopefully he will never pick one up again. I assume he is young? Best time to nip it in the bud.

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:10 PM

I flew to London with my mom and dad in 2007. Flying internationally with heavy smokers is not fun. They were getting pretty testy going through customs and practically ran down people to get out the door to smoke. I just am thankful that I never started.

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:10 PM

Sorry, TXMomof 3, that was directed at Hening. I hate it when i do that!

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:11 PM

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:11 PM

I figured that! I was trying to figure out what I had said!

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:14 PM

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:10 PM

This is actually directed at you this time. Apologies for any confusion.

My mom was a smoker for many years and only quit relatively recently (within the last 4 years). She could get a wee bit testy when she was wanting a smoke so I can sympathize!

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:15 PM

TXMomof3 on July 10, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Haha! Copy/Paste is really a double-edged sword.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:18 PM

bazil9 on July 10, 2009

You know what I think,,, I think we are just living in a bunch of lies every stinking day.
I am sorry,, people die. And you know what?? A lot of people who have smoked lived long lives!! Both of my grandparents smoked and lived long lives! Lots of people had,, our nursing homes today are filled with old people who spent half their lives smoking!!
We are so freaking afraid of dying today we refuse to really live!!
My God,, 50 years ago everybody smoked and they all started when the were teenagers,,, and guess what,, lots and lots of these people lived into their 70′s and 80′s! What more do you want???
Here’s a nice site,,, http://www.forces.org/evidence/hamilton/other/oldest.htm
“World’s Oldest people-all smokers!!”
You want to eat healthy,, go for it! Exercise? Do it! Smoke or not smoke?? I don’t care! Live a life worth living!! that should be the focus,, not your freaking diet and/or your obsession on health!!
Past generations smoked and ate lard and bacon for crying out loud,, yet they built a nation that changed the world!! And they didn’t do it by obsessing over what will help them live 92 more freaking days!
I will tell you what will give you life!! A vision! A dream! A goal to build a new life or change the world! That will keep a person alive when nothing else does! and that kind of life is worth living and that kind of life is only achievable in a nation that cherishes freedom and liberty!!
No! I don’t smoke! I think it’s actually a stupid thing to do!! But I’d rather live in a nation where everyone was free to smoke than one in which all were forced to eat a proper diet!!

JellyToast on July 10, 2009 at 8:25 PM

Smoked Camel Filters for 35 years. Quit in Feb. because taxes in cigs made them too expensive.Didn’t quit because of health. I miss them. Moron DEMS get NOTHING from me now.

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 8:25 PM

Smoking causes health issues that the VA has to spend a great deal of money treating later down the road.

So does food, cars, bullets, IEDs….

They could eliminate some of that spending and perhaps apply the resources to other issues (or just save costs outright) if they stopped the smoking culture of the military entirely.

They could also do it by saying they won’t cover smoking-related issues. That way the soldiers have a choice: smoking or health care. If you choose to smoke and develop emphysema, you’re on your own.

It’s a pipe dream anyway. There’s no way they’ll keep soldiers from smoking if they want to.

xblade on July 10, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Last I knew,cigarette sales on indian reservations are completely tax free, unlike military installations, and they have government paid health care. When they ban tobacco there or stop paying for their medical care let me know.

Russ86 on July 10, 2009 at 8:28 PM

As a Reserve officer let me say that I

(a) am not a fan of cigarettes

(b) am utterly outraged when basic rights are taken away from my brothers and sisters in arms.

First they came for the porno mags, now this.

If you can’t trust me with a Playboy or a Marlboro, why do you trust me with an M4?

You know, I hear that IEDs are bad for your health too. Any plans on banning those?

Abelard on July 10, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Abelard on July 10, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Sir, I think they are trying to “persuade using techniques different from the same-old politics brought to Washington in previous administrations yada yada yada” to convince the terrorists/insurgents that they should not use IEDs on our guys. Banning them outright would… I don’t know… infringe upon their civil rights to make jerry-rigged explosives.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:37 PM

Gen. John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Force during World War I said: “You ask me what we need to win the war? I answer tobacco as much as bullets.”
http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/29/Worldandnation/_Troops__tobacco__A_h.shtml

After German doctors became the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer[1][2] Nazi Germany initiated a strong anti-tobacco movement[3] and led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-tobacco_movement_in_Nazi_Germany

Tom

marinetbryant on July 10, 2009 at 8:39 PM

JellyToast on July 10, 2009 at 8:25 PM

Sorry Jelly, I stepped away for a few.

Yes, I can agree with several statements you made. My one set of grandparents that never smoked had all sorts of heath problems, including cancer. My other set of grandparents lived long lives…smokers and liked to have some drinks. (career military btw) They had a jest for life..so I appreciate the points you made.

A family member of mine (in her early 60′s) obsessed her whole life about everything- no salt, red meat, smoking, exercise. She just got diagnosed with cancer.

I am not saying smoking is good and it does create heath issues-as do so many things. Like you, it is a stupid habit/addiction and I wish I had never picked up one.

I try to enjoy my life and not obsess about every little thing but try to make good choices too.

Thank you for your thoughts.

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:49 PM

So, a soldier can take a bullet for his or her country, but he or she can’t light one up?

Pathetic.

Btw, this is a preview of what will happen when the government controls all health care. In Britain, they don’t want smokers to get lung cancer treatment, or obese individuals to be eligible for hip replacements.

The pro-choice left loves to say “keep your laws out of my body.”

My ass.

Hawkins1701 on July 10, 2009 at 8:50 PM

Hawkins1701 on July 10, 2009 at 8:50 PM

I agree.

Not to stray off topic..but the obese crap gets on my nerves. I don’t like to see groups of people targeted. YES some overweight people are that way because of poor diet and exercise habits (or lack there off). Some have other issues that are factors.

And no I am not obese :)

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:54 PM

Ladyingray…are u lurking?

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:55 PM

These are men and women putting their lives on the line in the name of service to the United States. For pete’s sake, let them have the right to choose whether or not they want to smoke. This administration is all about controlling and undermining our rights, demoralizing where ever they can. The military is no exception and I will stand by them if they want to smoke, drink, look at noodie pics or swear like a sailor. They are the reason I am able to even be here writing this.

The more Mr. Obama and his cronies try to suppress freedom the more I’m going to “shove it”.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 8:57 PM

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 8:57 PM

Correction: The more Mr. Obama and his cronies try to suppress freedom, the more I’m going to SAY “shove it”.

silly me.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 8:58 PM

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 8:54 PM

There’s a fine line between education and persuasion and draconian laws designed to maintain “everyone’s interest”. Smoking and drinking and eating lots of delicious fatty foods are all bad for you, but if done in moderation, not too bad. I think this is an effective argument against government health care. When you stop paying for your care, someone else makes the decisions FOR you.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:59 PM

The military is no exception and I will stand by them if they want to smoke, drink, look at noodie pics or swear like a sailor. Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 8:57 PM

This sailor appreciates your sentiment. :-)

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 8:59 PM

I agree totally.

bazil9 on July 10, 2009 at 9:02 PM

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Sailors have the best way with words…he he.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 9:05 PM

This is just plain dumb. Never mind the military has no business doing this I am sure smoking is already banned indoors anyway. They shouldn’t be charged state taxes either anymore than they should pay state sales taxes. They are on federal land. Finally the health argument is a joke. Few of these costs are incurred while in the service but later when they are older. The servicemen could start smoking after they leave the service so you will have the costs anyway.
This is nothing but nanny state antics.

Rocks on July 10, 2009 at 9:07 PM

Remember when the separation from “smoking” and “non-smoking” on TWA, Braniff, et. al., was the seat-back in front of you? Ahhhhh, the putrid stench of stale tobacco smoke recirculated through an enclosed aluminum tube traveling at 500 mph and 35,000 feet.

StimulateTHIS on July 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Yes, I remember this. I also remember Sir Richard Branson(Virgin Atlantic CEO)immediately responding with the intent to create a smokers only airline. All pilots, stews & passengers would be smokers or smoking tolerent, no ninnies allowed!

The proposal to do so was immediately shot down by the FAA.

I also remember wondering what the constitional justification supporting this position was. I still do.

Whether it is Nanny-Statists or Islamo-Facists, the forces arrayed against liberty are patient. Their methods insidious. It is a constant grind.

Against which a vigilance to combat may not be possible with the attention span of society’s 30-second sound-byte mentality today.

In the enviroment I see today, I refuse to breed!

Archimedes on July 10, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Maybe this is some sort of grandiose egomaniacal wish fulfillment of Mr. Obama’s because he doesn’t seem to be able to kick the habit himself.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 9:11 PM

In the enviroment I see today, I refuse to breed!

Archimedes on July 10, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Actually I think the solution would be for us libertarian/conservatives/conservative-minded people to breed MORE than the liberals. We just flood the system with as many conservative babies as possible and wait for world domination. Mwahahahaha!

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:14 PM

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 9:11 PM

Q: What’s the difference between Obama and God?
A: God doesn’t think he’s Obama.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:17 PM

What is the conservative mantra? “If you want something, then pay for it.” This principle goes for products, as well as services. Sure, cigarettes are bought by service members with their own money, but who pays for their insurance? If people want to engage in risky behavior, that’s fine, so long as they pay for it and for its consequences. Why should I have to pay for another Soldier’s health care issues related to smoking, given the fact that that Soldier knows the health risks involved with smoking?
If people want to engage in whatever risky behavior, fine, but don’t make me pay for the consequences of their decisions.

Send_Me on July 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:17 PM

+ 1
That calls for a beer.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 9:29 PM

long ago when I was in the Army, we got cigarettes(little 4 packs) in c rats. I knew many(Non smokers) who after survivng their first firefight smoked furiously. I am betting those civilians and military making these decisions have never heard a shot fired in anger.

obdurate on July 10, 2009 at 9:38 PM

A close friend of mine once told me an interesting story. His grandfather was in his 70′s,, smoked a cigar everyday,, smoked since he was a kid. His granddad was in great health and was working all the time. Well, his granddad fell and broke his hip one day. He had to go to the hospital and while there, the doctors refused to allow him his cigar. He became depressed and eventually just died. Not from the broken hip. Nothing to do with that. This story was told to me about 10 years ago and I’ve always remembered it. This old man was practically begging to go outside and have a cigar and after a time he just quit asking, became withdrawn and died!
I have a serious question. If an old person has never smoked and are over, lets say, 70 years old. Is there any harm at all if they wanted to start??? How about getting a suntan?? If you are over 75 and, as I have read,, it takes at least 15 years before skin cancer can form,, why not sit out in the sun and work on your tan ??
I am asking this because,,, this question shows how these decisions are more political than rational sometimes!!
If an 80 year old wanted to start smoking for the first time why in the world would any doctor tell them not to????
Because this is as much political as it is medical!!

JellyToast on July 10, 2009 at 9:46 PM

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Miss Molly, are you good with the “two dollar short timers” too…?

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 9:46 PM

Back when a pack of Marlboro’s cost $.25 a pack, there were a few cigarette companies who would provide (at a nominal cost) ammo pouch type cigarette pack holders to clip on to the pistol belt. Still have one. Looked like a first-aid pouch, but had a plastic lining to prevent the pack from being crushed. The old Ken Nolan catalog, popular back in the 60-70′s routinely offered these as well. “Smoke ‘em, if ya got ‘em.” was a common command issued by many an NCO on a road march, when the platoon halted.

And that smoke after a fire fight or other engagement…well it served a purpose, allowed adrenalin to subside and the system to return to a state of normality better than any other battlefield therapeutic device. It still does. Perhaps issuing soldiers psychotropic drugs to do the same is in order? I think not.

As for the present, the problem with the suggestion that the military PX system start charging selective state and federal taxes on tobacco products is that it opens the door. Unintended consequences.

If tobacco taxes are levied, state, local, and federal, to AAFES/Navy Exchange, commissary and military service club outlets, what is to prevent then the imposition of the same taxes on every other product currently available to service members through the same outlets?

I am sure that the localities and states (and the feds) wouldlove to tap that “revenue stream” and will…almost before the ink is dry on any legislation passed to start taxing tobacco available on on-post/on-base facilities.

As for diseases and disorders brought on by smoking…mesothelioma and other lung diseases are connected directly to environmental factors…not just tobacco use. Smoke and debris from artillery rounds, from small arms fire, from inhalation of vehicle fumes, jet exhaust, the normal dirt and dust of a combat zone or even a training range, all cause lung disease….and a few others as well, as victims of Gulf War Disease and Southwest Asia fever can attest.

CVharging troops for medical care for lung diseases without ameliorating ALL other factors involved in lung disease is just another liberal attempt to make personal choices, smoking or joining the armed forces, less acceptable. Nothing less.

Education on smoking, and showing the graphic results of long-term smoking, along with smoke cessation programs, and the ongoing generational aversion to smoking, will have a better long term result than trying to set up yet another bureaucracy paid for with tax dollars (our money) to try to obtain yet more tax dollars from those who have few dollars.

And, unless we want to raise the entire pay of military members to that of General Service (GS) federal employees across the board, let’s not cost them more money in an effort to legislate behaviors while disguising an attempt to take more money out of their pockets.

coldwarrior on July 10, 2009 at 9:49 PM

What is the conservative mantra? “If you want something, then pay for it.” This principle goes for products, as well as services. Sure, cigarettes are bought by service members with their own money, but who pays for their insurance? If people want to engage in risky behavior, that’s fine, so long as they pay for it and for its consequences. Why should I have to pay for another Soldier’s health care issues related to smoking, given the fact that that Soldier knows the health risks involved with smoking?
If people want to engage in whatever risky behavior, fine, but don’t make me pay for the consequences of their decisions.

Send_Me on July 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM

You’ve GOT to be kidding. There’s NO group of people that will pay a higher premiums, and MORE than pay their way against what any tax payer might have to pay for them than smokers through their taxes. In fact, insurance for KIDS is paid by smokers. So be off and tax gays for risky behavior.

Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 9:50 PM

Actually I think the solution would be for us libertarian/conservatives/conservative-minded people to breed MORE than the liberals. We just flood the system with as many conservative babies as possible and wait for world domination. Mwahahahaha!
Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009

It won’t work as long as the Libs control education. That’s how they got so powerful, subverting our children.

Back on topic: I have a problem with the ‘they are old enough to decide for themselves’ position. I have never smoked, but I have had nicotine cravings from other smokers’ smoke. Sometimes they were subtle, but sometimes they were godawful. If I didn’t know how harmful tobacco is, I would have given in to them.

njcommuter on July 10, 2009 at 9:51 PM

that Soldier knows the health risks involved with smoking?
If people want to engage in whatever risky behavior,

*head explodey*.

Reaps on July 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

obdurate on July 10, 2009 at 9:38 PM

“…long ago when I was in the Army, we got cigarettes(little 4 packs) in c rats. I knew many(Non smokers) who after survivng their first firefight smoked furiously.”

The Army hooked me with those “babies” in Advanced Infantry Training, stateside.
When I was deployed to SE Asia on combat missions the “smokin’ got real easy” between beers…!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Reaps on July 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

LOL

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 9:58 PM

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Man, and all that are in MRE’s nowadays are those little bottles of Tabasco sauce…..Those are cool, though.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 10:00 PM

Send_Me on July 10, 2009 at 9:26 PM

I respectfully disagree. Slamming conservative thinking people does little to make your point. It sounds petty rather than thoughtful.

These fine men and women are our esteemed warriors protecting your right to make choices and to be free. Some will die in battle, some will be injured or maimed or fall ill, some will make choices just like you and me to do things that might not be perfect. Should that negate their service to this country? I am willing to pay for the healthcare of a few in order to remain free and feel safe. In return, we can speak freely, make our own choices, live life in freedom without fear of a knock on the door in the middle of the night.

I’d say that’s a fair deal.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 10:01 PM

I wouldn’t be opposed to a national smoking ban. In my opinion, anyone who smokes has to be mentally handicapped in one way or another…

Seriously, if you don’t know that it’ll kill you eventually, you’re stupid, and if you do it anyway, you’re stupid. Then you expect taxpayers to save you from lung cancer?

Darwin at his finest.

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:03 PM

And pot? Hows that work’n for ya?

Of course a radical who used cocaine in college in the WH doesn’t get too too excited about mind altering substances but tobacco? Oooh bad.

Speakup on July 10, 2009 at 10:06 PM

Well, lets first get rid of the nonsense. The actual, historical military phrase is (during a break), “smoke’em if you got’em”. The military, in time of war, has not simply subsidized cigarettes, but during WW II and Korea, they were included free as part of the daily rations! Let’s stop the gross hypocrisy!

Now, war at the front is a young person’s occupation, we generally do not have a group of seniles running around the battlefield. While smoking is harmful to the body, it is generally true that those who quit before age 40 will, on average, reach normal national life expectancy and should not create an actual problem for the VA, as opposed to a hypothetical “general problem among the U.S. population”. To restrict our young combat soldiers as regards tobacco is preposterous! The VA is reacting not to facts, but to politically correct stupidity! If tobacco is a small comfort on the battlefield, that’s fine! Those of these fine young people who survive on the battlefield, will have plenty of time in later life to make a decision about tobacco.

John Adams on July 10, 2009 at 10:06 PM

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:03 PM

That’s a tad bit extreme. I agree that it doesn’t make too much sense to do something that can harm you. But shoot, you gotta be slightly stupid to be putting yourself in areas where there are bombs and bullets and missiles. Those are SLIGHTLY more dangerous than cigarettes, eh? :-)

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 10:08 PM

“…And, unless we want to raise the entire pay of military members to that of General Service (GS) federal employees across the board, let’s not cost them more money in an effort to legislate behaviors while disguising an attempt to take more money out of their pockets…”

That’s the best gosh damn suggestion I’ve read here all night…!
I’m fer dat soldier…!

“And, unless we want to raise the entire pay of military members to that of General Service (GS) federal employees across the board..”

Beejeebuss, CW… That would be the end of modern warfare as mankind knows it…!
There are some who might wanna “short sheet” yah with that kinda revoltin’ attitude…!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 10:11 PM

Rightwingguy on July 1Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 10:08 PM0, 2009 at 10:08 PM

Well sure, but there are things to gain from putting yourself in danger for your country… What’s to gain from smoking?

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:15 PM

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 10:11 PM

And then there are those paid “volunteers” with Americorps…and a move to make Americorps pay local union-scale.

coldwarrior on July 10, 2009 at 10:15 PM

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:15 PM

Haha! Now on that you have me.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 10:18 PM

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:15 PM

Ever routinely had your adrenalin going full tilt, daily? That alone can be a cause of premature death.

Perhaps we should issue “soothing” drugs to our troops so they can unwind chemically after a mission, an assault, an ambush, having jihadis in the wire? It’ll take several hours for them to be combat ready after being “chemically soothed”, in the meantime, but what the heck…at least they are not smoking?

coldwarrior on July 10, 2009 at 10:19 PM

CW… I “Goggled” AmeriCorps…
They’re associated with “Habitat for Humanity”…

You said…

“And then there are those paid “volunteers” with AmeriCorps…and a move to make AmeriCorps pay local union-scale.”

Volunteers, don’t make union scale, soldier!

What the hell has that got to do with the federal, civilian vs military pay scale and the thread we were pursuing…?

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 10:33 PM

lutherjw on July 10, 2009 at 10:03 PM

While you’re at it we can have a nationwide ban on alcohol, donuts, all drugs good and bad subject to possible abuse, fried foods, glue, ice cream, soda, etc. I’m sure others can come up with more.

Once those items are eliminated, then we can move to things like bicycles, automobiles, planes, skate boards, sports, television, computers. They cause health problems too and banning them would avoid so many health issues. I know I’m pretty “stupid” enjoying my football on a television that makes me brain dead while imbibing in a six pack that I got from the liquor store driving my car, as I stare at a computer screen while eating doritos.

Darwin would truly be impressed with how well I’ve adapted.

Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 10:40 PM

CW said…

“…Ever routinely had your adrenalin going full tilt, daily? That alone can be a cause of premature death.
Perhaps we should issue “soothing” drugs to our troops so they can unwind chemically after a mission, an assault, an ambush, having jihadis in the wire? It’ll take several hours for them to be combat ready after being “chemically soothed”, in the meantime, but what the heck…at least they are not smoking?”

CW…

I served fifty years ago and in my outfit, we did just that…!

We called it “Ba moi Bah”…!

Where the hell did you serve and when…?

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 10:46 PM

I quit cold turkey on 1/1/87 but if I had to go into a war zone, I would start right back up.

I think Ed missed the bigger point here. The reason they’re doing this is because the VA has to pay for all these health problems later on. Now, if government gets to control all our health care, what will they be banning then? Sugary soft drinks? Beef and pork? Pastries?

Kafir on July 10, 2009 at 10:48 PM

You’ve GOT to be kidding. There’s NO group of people that will pay a higher premiums, and MORE than pay their way against what any tax payer might have to pay for them than smokers through their taxes. In fact, insurance for KIDS is paid by smokers. So be off and tax gays for risky behavior.
Jeff from WI on July 10, 2009 at 9:50 PM

“Last year [2007], states collected more than $19 billion in cigarette taxes.” So, that’s $19 billion in cigarette tax revenue. Now, let’s compare that to the “$96.7 billion… spent on public and private health care combined“, which equates to “according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and each American household spends $630 a year in federal and state taxes due to smoking.”
So like I say: you can smoke all you want, but don’t make me pay for it.

Send_Me on July 10, 2009 at 10:54 PM

These fine men and women are our esteemed warriors protecting your right to make choices and to be free.

I appreciate the compliment, as I am one of the warriors of whom you speak.

Some will die in battle, some will be injured or maimed or fall ill, some will make choices just like you and me to do things that might not be perfect.
Miss Molly on July 10, 2009 at 10:01 PM

I’m well aware. Consider this for a moment: 1) I’m not saying the government shouldn’t pay for the health care of service members, to include myself. All I’m saying is that if a Soldier wishes to smoke, then they should have to pay extra for their medical care. 2) If tobacco-use causes cancer, among other things, then how is it in the best interests of the military to allow its members to continue the habit, especially considering that a Soldier with cancer can no longer fight?

Send_Me on July 10, 2009 at 11:11 PM

“…Man, and all that are in MRE’s nowadays are those little bottles of Tabasco sauce…..Those are cool, though.
Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 10:00 PM

RWG… I gotta tell yah…!

If “Uncle” had packed Tabasco sauce in our C-rations fifty years ago I’d probably hugged my buddy..!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 11:28 PM

I guess with experience comes perspective. Us young whipper-snappers don’t know how it was 50+ yrs ago and therefore can’t appreciate what we have now.

BTW, thank you sir (and the other vets who frequent this blog) for your service. I wouldn’t have had the awesome opportunities I have had without it.

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 11:37 PM

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 11:28 PM

Sorry Geezer, that previous post was directed at you. I’m not doing to well with being clear in my posts tonight. Apologies, sir. :-)

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 11:39 PM

Rightwingguy on July 10, 2009 at 11:37 PM

Remember…anyone can learn from their own mistakes. Genius is when you learn from other’s mistakes.

coldwarrior on July 10, 2009 at 11:40 PM

dcwvu,

Do you mean that same pesky conservative stereotype that the CDC has about gay men having a higher percentage of AIDS/HIV cases?
That same CDC that we count on to tell us what shots to get to avoid illnesses?

If we are going to have a war on:
1) diabetes- snack food wars
2) overweight- snack foods, transfats,sugar, exercise
3) smoking- cigarettes, tobacco,
4) alcohol- lowering it to .o8
5) seatbelt safety

because the DATA is there,then why aren’t we having a war led by the liberals on homosexuality causing a higher incidence of AIDS/HIV? It’s a safety issue. It’s a health issue. Instead they want us to accept the lifestyle. Why not accept smoking? diabetes? etc? If liberals don’t want to pay the costs for diabetes,smoking etc, why can’t conservative not want to pay for the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment?

The term men who have sex with men (MSM) refers to all men who have sex with other men, regardless of how they identify themselves (gay, bisexual, or heterosexual). In the United States, HIV and AIDS have had a tremendous impact on MSM. Consider these facts:

AIDS has been diagnosed for more than half a million MSM. Over 300,000 MSM with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.
MSM made up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV in 2005, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men.
In a 2005 study of 5 large US cities, 46% of African American MSM were HIV-positive.
Since HIV/AIDS in MSM was first diagnosed 1981, gay and bisexual men have been leaders in dealing with the challenges of the epidemic. Gay organizations and activists, through their work, have contributed greatly to many of the guidelines for prevention, treatment, and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS.

For complex reasons, HIV/AIDS continues to take a high toll on the MSM population. For example, the number of new HIV/AIDS cases among MSM in 2005 was 11% more than the number of cases in 2001. It is unclear whether this increase is due to more testing, which results in more diagnoses, or to an increase in the number of HIV infections. Whatever the reasons, in 2005, MSM still accounted for about 53% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 71% of cases in male adults and adolescents.

Last Modified: June 28, 2007
Last Reviewed: June 28, 2007
Content Source:
Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention

journeyintothewhirlwind on July 10, 2009 at 11:42 PM

Nanny nanny nanny.

Old enough to bleed, old enough.

Limerick on July 10, 2009 at 11:45 PM

I believe it’s been proven that smokers actually save money by dying younger.

I know from my own case, and with other smokers I know, that we don’t use the health care we’re entitled to. Except for eye doctor, I haven’t been near a doctors office in 7 years. I smoke and I drink and have no intention of giving up either so it’s pointless for me to even bother to go to the doctor.

I could break my arm and they’d blame smoking and drinking.

Jaynie59 on July 10, 2009 at 11:46 PM

Uncle Sugar’s long arm.

When do you chop it off? Tanned skin? Rock climbing? Bungy Jumper? Mad Max motorcyclist?

Keep that lanky jester on a leash. If I play, I pay. Don’t tell me I can’t play and still I pay.

Limerick on July 10, 2009 at 11:50 PM

RWG and CW…

I gotta tell you “Gentlemen” you’re the kind of finely honed metal our dear USofA is made of…

Thank you, Sir’s…!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 11:55 PM

“Remember…anyone can learn from their own mistakes. Genius is when you learn from other’s mistakes.
coldwarrior on July 10, 2009 at 11:40 PM…”

Well said Sir…!

Geezer on July 10, 2009 at 11:59 PM

We are becoming SPCA neutered hounds.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

If I play, I pay. Don’t tell me I can’t play and still I pay.

Limerick on July 10, 2009 at 11:50 PM

That’s a good point.

People love to lament the so-called cost of us smokers. How about what it costs us smokers and drinkers?

I pay thousands of dollars a year in health care premiums for services I never use, that goes to support bogus conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome and middle aged women on Ritalin.

Where would this country be without us chain smoking alcoholics? I pay more in taxes every week than some people make.

Jaynie59 on July 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Government-subsidized health care needs to go away (with exception to its own employees), for two reasons: 1) It’s unconstitutional. 2) Whoever pays the bills is king. No one wants the government to tell them what to do. Well, if they are paying people’s health care expenses, then doesn’t it have a right to say, “hey, if you’re going to do x, y, or z, then we aren’t paying it.”? It’s no different than what we’d expect from an auto insurance policy. Don’t drive like an idiot, and your premiums and deductible are lower. Why is health care treated any differently? If you choose to eat gravy fries and a bucket of cheese for breakfast while smoking a cigar right after engaging in sexual promiscuity, then why shouldn’t that person’s health insurance premiums go up? Wouldn’t a person call this the “conservative” solution? Get government out of the health care industry and allow people to negotiate directly with their own insurance companies.
Now, since the government is in the health care business, then it should only have the ability to dictate to its customers (e.g. those on the government dole) and not the rest of the public who isn’t a customer of said health care services.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:01 AM

Can’t you just let them smoke. You stuck them with women, You stuck them with Silly Marys, you have a Democrat coward as C In C, and a Democrat Congress to cut military funding. Let them have a stinking Camel, will ya?

Jeff from WI on July 11, 2009 at 12:02 AM

We are gonna scare the hell out of the enemy with our Sesame Street Army.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:04 AM

Where would this country be without us chain smoking alcoholics? I pay more in taxes every week than some people make.
Jaynie59 on July 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Great, now compare what you pay (voluntarily, I might add) versus what you cost the rest of us.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:04 AM

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:00 AM

“Without exception…there’s an abject fool borne every minute…!

Geezer on July 11, 2009 at 12:05 AM

Great, now compare what you pay (voluntarily, I might add) versus what you cost the rest of us.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:04 AM

Ok, tell me. What do I cost you? I’m a smoker. My medical bills have been submitted to your mailbox how many times? I’ve demanded payment from you on which dates? Please let me know exactly how deep I’ve reached into your pocket to make you scream in that alto tone.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:07 AM

Its long past time to run the pink panty-wearing wusses the hell out of the Pentagon.

These people are willingly risking their lives for us every day. If they wish to burn one or two along the way, let them.

Smells like a plot to run the true hardasses out of the military.

-Dave

Dave R. on July 11, 2009 at 12:08 AM

Its long past time to run the pink panty-wearing wusses the hell out of the Pentagon.

bingo

Jeff from WI on July 11, 2009 at 12:13 AM

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:04 AM

While you are working up the numbers please include how much illegal immigrant health is costing you also. I want to know where I rank.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:16 AM

Programs and policies that discourage smoking are vital to keep reducing the number of lung cancer cases and deaths.1 2 3
Incidence Trends2
In the United States, incidence of lung cancer has—

Decreased significantly by 1.8% per year from 1991 to 2005 among men.
Increased significantly by 0.5% per year from 1991 to 2005 among women.
Among African Americans, incidence has—

Decreased significantly by 2.9% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Among Asians/Pacific Islanders, incidence has—

Decreased significantly by 1.7% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Among Hispanics, incidence has—

Decreased significantly by 2.4% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Death Trends2
In the United States, deaths from lung cancer have—

Decreased significantly by 1.9% per year from 1993 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 2003 to 2005 among women.
Among African Americans, deaths have—

Decreased significantly by 2.8% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Among Asians/Pacific Islanders, deaths have—

Decreased significantly by 1.6% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Among American Indians/Alaska Natives, deaths have—

Decreased significantly by 2.3% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Increased significantly by 2.9% per year from 1996 to 2005 among women.
Among Hispanics, deaths have—

Decreased significantly by 2.5% per year from 1996 to 2005 among men.
Remained level from 1996 to 2005 among women.
References
1U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2001 Surgeon General’s Report: Women and Smoking.

2Jemal A, Thun MJ, Ries LA, Howe HL, Weir HK, Center MM, Ward E, Wu XC, Eheman C, Anderson R, Ajani UA, Kohler B, Edwards BK. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2005, featuring trends in lung cancer, tobacco use, and tobacco control. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2008;100(23):1672–1694.

3Ferlay J, Bray F, Pisani P, Parkin DM. GLOBOCAN 2002: Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide. IARC CancerBase No. 5. version 2.0, IARCPress, Lyon, 2004.

Policies that discourage smoking seem to work.

Why aren’t we pushing policies that discourage homosexual activity to reduce AIDS/HIV?

journeyintothewhirlwind on July 11, 2009 at 12:18 AM

Let me help…

each American household spends $630 a year in federal and state taxes due to smoking.

Source: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourHealth/HighCostOfSmoking.aspx

The average immigrant with only a high school education creates a lifetime fiscal burden of $31,000.

Source:http://www.cairco.org/econ/econ.html

So that gives me…um…..49 years of smoking to dig into your pocket to equal one illegal immigrant.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:28 AM

Ok, tell me. What do I cost you? I’m a smoker. My medical bills have been submitted to your mailbox how many times? I’ve demanded payment from you on which dates? Please let me know exactly how deep I’ve reached into your pocket to make you scream in that alto tone.
Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:07 AM

A. It depends on whether taxpayers subsidize your behavior or not. If you and your insurance company have it figured out and don’t use government funds, then I don’t much care about your smoking habits.
B. If you do receive government funds, then, you and every other smoker receiving government subsidies to smoke in this country cost every taxpayer around $640 per year.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:31 AM

What subsidies am I receiving? I walk up to the counter, place my order, open my wallet, and zing…..cash vanishes from it.

I go to the doc, he looks and says tisk-tisk and I open my wallet and zing…….cash vanishes from it.

If money is disappearing from your wallet because of my smoking then don’t blame me. Blame the gawddamned politician who told you to open your wallet.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:35 AM

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:35 AM

My money disappears about that quickly too. And I don’t smoke.

Rightwingguy on July 11, 2009 at 12:38 AM

I don’t smoke now but way back when-when i was drafted smoke breaks got me through basic training and Southeast Asia with my sanity. I can’t imagine anyone in a stressful military situation not smoking.

MaiDee on July 11, 2009 at 12:38 AM

While you are working up the numbers please include how much illegal immigrant health is costing you also. I want to know where I rank.
Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:16 AM
So that gives me…um…..49 years of smoking to dig into your pocket to equal one illegal immigrant.
Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:28 AM

What does illegal immigration have to do with your smoking habit? To be honest, I don’t like paying for either one. Like I say, I don’t care what you do, so long as the government, hence taxpayers, don’t have to pay for it. For that reason, as well as it being unconstitutional, I don’t like government aid to any citizen of any kind, whether it be for farmers, smokers, unemployed people, retired folks who failed to plan ahead, etc. The government needs to let people live with their choices.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:39 AM

Rightwingguy on July 11, 2009 at 12:38 AM

And who took it from you? Me, or Uncle Sugar?

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:40 AM

Look, folks, I am not defending smoking. I’m comdemning do-gooders taking your cash for my vices.

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:42 AM

Look, folks, I am not defending smoking. I’m comdemning do-gooders taking your cash for my vices.
Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:42 AM

I see we have found some common ground :)

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:44 AM

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:44 AM

All is good. What is live without a bit of a scrap?

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:45 AM

(use a damn spell checker, Lim. And lay off the beer too)

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:47 AM

Limerick on July 11, 2009 at 12:45 AM

Ha, very true.

Send_Me on July 11, 2009 at 12:50 AM

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