Another Ban Failed: USA Military Madness


The fight is back – even after the Pentagon Says NO
to Ban on War Zone Smoking

The military v. Marlboro
By Rich Lowry
October 14, 2014
We are losing a war in Iraq and Syria, the military is shrinking dangerously as global threats are growing, and yet the Pentagon is mustering its forces against tobacco products.
The Defense Department is studying a ban on the sale of cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco on bases and ships. Without committing himself, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has spoken favorably of the idea, citing health-care costs: “I think we owe it to our people.”
So, we can’t figure out how to degrade and destroy ISIS, as repeatedly promised by the commander in chief, but just maybe we can figure out how to defeat Marlboro and Copenhagen. This would make a lot of sense — if Michael Bloomberg were the grand strategist of the United States.
The military life frequently involves the kinds of situations that lend themselves to smoking, namely mind-numbing boredom and incredible stress, sometimes one after another, so it has long been associated with smoking.
There were national pushes to provide cigarettes to the troops in World War I and World War II.
Gen. John Pershing said cigarettes were as important as bullets. The heavily stubbled, bone-weary GIs depicted in the iconic Bill Mauldin cartoons often have cigarettes drooping from their lips.
Up until 1975, cigarettes were included in military rations.
During the battle of Fallujah, Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller became known as the Marlboro Marine when a picture of him, grimy and bloodied, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, ran in 150 newspapers and magazines.
The Los Angeles Times photographer who took the picture later wrote of the terrors of that battle and how, when the world was exploding around them, “Everybody dragged deeply on cigarettes.”
(The photo was so instantly popular that the Marines offered to yank Miller off the front line so he wouldn’t get hurt; Miller refused, and has suffered terribly from post-traumatic stress disorder.)
Of course, cigarettes aren’t good for you. But if they are a significant health risk, so is signing up to risk life and limb for your country.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican and Marine reservist who has rallied congressional opposition to the ban, puts it this way:
“We sleep in the dirt for this country. We get shot at for this country. But we can’t have a cigarette if we want to for this country, because that’s unhealthy.”
A prohibition on tobacco sales would be a step toward denying members of the military access to consumer products that are freely available to the general population.
No one tries to stop the black-turtleneck-wearing graduate student studying Bau?de?laire from buying a pack of cigarettes, but the Marine whose rifle is his best friend is another story.
What sense is there in that? And does it not occur to the prohibitionists that if cigarettes aren’t sold on base, an enterprising soldier or sailor might buy them from the local 7-Eleven?
The US military is the baddest killing machine that the world has ever known. It also is an enormous federal bureaucracy subject to the same asinine, politically trendy imperatives of any other federal bureaucracy.
Certainly, in terms of sheer health, it would be better if every member of the military ate lots of kale and other leafy greens, had a glass of red wine over dinner and never touched a cigarette.
Soldiers and sailors might have other ideas about what they want to consume, though. They have signed up for an inherently regimented life, but — as people in whom we entrust life-and-death responsibility — they deserve the leeway to decide for themselves whether they want to light up or not.
If they can fight ISIS, battle the Taliban, brave Ebola and respond to natural disasters around the world — and do it well and without complaint — surely they can handle the threat of having cigarettes sold in close proximity to them.

Military Madness
April 5, 2014
by Frank Davis
H/T Harley for two articles about smoking and the military:
The first:
The cigarette at war
By William McGurn
You ask me what we need to win this war. I answer, tobacco as much as bullets.”
So cabled the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, Gen. John Pershing, to the War Department in 1917.
It’s a long way from “Black Jack” Pershing to Chuck Hagel. Not that the Obama administration shies away from wars. It’s just that the target is less likely to be the Russians or Iranians than our own troops: specifically, the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who smoke.
This week, Defense Secretary Hagel announced he supports a ban on tobacco sales on bases and ships. This followed a memo sent to service chiefs earlier by two top Pentagon officials: “The prominence of tobacco products in retail outlets and permission for smoking breaks while on duty sustain the perception that we are not serious about reducing the use of tobacco.”
What a narrow view of the cigarette. For nearly a century, tobacco in its various forms has been, as Pershing appreciated, a powerful weapon in what we used to call the arsenal of freedom — a symbol of confidence, grit and resolve.
For Churchill it was his cigar. For FDR it was his cigarette in his holder, protruding upward from his upturned chin. For MacArthur, it was his corncob pipe.
So it was too for those lower down the command chain. The Vietnam grunt with a pack of Camels strapped to his helmet. The grizzled GI on Sai?pan who made it to the cover of Life magazine with his smoke clenched in his mouth. The shirtless sailor in his helmet and dogtags, taking a cigarette break on a corner of his ship…
The second:
Tobacco Prohibition in the U.S. Military
A newly released report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) provides more evidence that the federal government is steadily moving toward prohibition of tobacco. The report, requested by the Department of Defense (DOD), calls for implementation of “state-of-the-art programs to achieve tobacco-free military and veteran populations.” Some of the draconian measures include:
• Stop selling tobacco products in military commissaries and exchanges.
• Prohibit tobacco use anywhere on military installations.
• Treat tobacco use in the same way as …alcohol abuse and poor physical fitness, which impair military readiness.
The report acknowledges that deployment of military forces is a primary factor in high prevalence of tobacco use. War has been associated with increased use of tobacco for centuries. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington pleaded to the Continental Congress: “If you can’t send money, send tobacco.”
Cigarettes were considered to be effective for dealing with the stress of trench warfare in the First World War; they were given to soldiers in 1917 and 1918. General Pershing said at the time, “Tobacco is as indispensable as the daily ration; we must have thousands of tons without delay.” In World War II, cigarettes were included in soldiers’ rations.
Of course, this seems like madness to me. But it actually seems like worse madness than usual, because here the antismokers are putting at risk the operational effectiveness of combat troops, if they’re going to extend smoking bans to military personnel on active service. And if it’s just confined to military bases, then it’ll probably have the same depressing effect on morale as civilian smoking bans have.
It’s all based on upside down thinking. The real threat to military personnel on active service are battlefield bullets and bombs and missiles, not any cigarettes being smoked to calm tattered nerves.
Such upside down thinking always results in what’s important being trivialised and the trivial getting exaggerated. Don’t worry about the sniper on the hill: worry about the secondhand smoke from your buddy’s Camel.
The antismoking mindset is always characterised by upside down thinking.
I hope the US military (and every other military) resists the antismokers tooth and nail, and throws away the antismoking rulebook whenever they get the chance.
And why aren’t thousands of veterans of numerous wars speaking up against these monstrous restrictions? Perhaps they are trying, but are getting no more of a hearing than anyone else ever gets.

Send smokes again to the troops starting Aug. 27
August, 2010
By Ed O’Keefe
Sending care packages to service members serving overseas? Later this month it’ll once again be legal to send them cigarettes and other tobacco products.
A law meant to ban tobacco smuggling and to prevent children from ordering tobacco through the mail went into effect June 29. The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), permits people to send tobacco products for noncommercial purposes if both the shipper and receiver are legal adults and the package includes delivery confirmation.
The new law prohibited the friends and families of troops deployed overseas from sending care packages through first class mail. The U.S. Postal Service initially said customers could only use Express Mail to ship tobacco products in order to comply with the law. But military families protested because Express Mail packages cannot be sent overseas.
Starting Aug. 27, military care packages with tobacco can be sent using Priority Mail, which does ship to overseas military addresses, according to USPS spokesman Greg Frey.
“We hope that with this modification we’re able to serve the needs of Americans serving overseas,” Frey said.
Kohl and other lawmakers had promised a quick solution to their oversight. In a statement Thursday, Kohl said “I’m pleased that the Postal Service responded so quickly to the concerns of our military families and found a way to honor the original intent of the bill: to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children and prevent tobacco smugglers from profiting on the black market.”

Pentagon Says No to Ban on War Zone Smoking Despite Study
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell says troops already are under enough stress and making enough sacrifices from fighting the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009???????????
The Pentagon says it won’t ban smoking by troops in war zones, despite a recent study recommending a tobacco-free military.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell says troops already are under enough stress and making enough sacrifices in fighting the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he says Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn’t want to do add to that stress by taking away one of the few outlets they have to relieve it.
But Morrell says Gates will look at the study to see what other things can be done to move toward a goal of a tobacco-free force.
An advocacy group, however, is strongly condemning the push by Pentagon health experts to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end sales of tobacco products on military property. Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United, decried even the discussion of such a ban.
“With all the issues facing our military today and the risks our troops take to protect our freedom, banning smoking should not even be on the radar screen,” Wise said in a written statement Wednesday.
“Nobody doubts the effects of smoking, but it is not an illegal substance and should not be banned,” he said. “Our troops make enough sacrifices to serve our nation. They give up many of the freedoms civilians enjoy already without being told they cannot partake in yet another otherwise legal activity. Perhaps more than anything, smoking in the field is more about comfort and coping with an often hostile environment.”
Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon’s office of clinical and program policy, told USA Today last week 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 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 increased 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.
The study 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 said.

Premium Cigar Group Concerned for Right to Smoke in Military
Washington, D.C. July 16, 2009 — Although the Department of Defense is considering phasing in a ban on tobacco use in the military over as many as 20 years, The Pentagon reassured troops this week that it won’t ban tobacco products in war zones, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ press secretary Geoff Morrell. But the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association isn’t taking any chances.
“This comes down to personal choice and the pleasure of enjoying tobacco – especially good cigars and pipe tobacco – and the individual rights for which our military are fighting,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. His group’s members include more than 2,000 small business owners of smoke shops and manufacturers and distributors of hand-made cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco. They represent some five percent of the tobacco industry.
“IPCPR members regularly send supplies of hand-made cigars to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to enjoy during their moments of relaxation. If anyone has earned the right to such pleasures, it’s our troops, especially those in combat,” he said.
McCalla pointed out that most people have had the image of officers smoking cigars but that cigars are enjoyed by all strata of military personnel, not unlike civilians.
“Smoking throughout the ranks is not restricted to one level or another, nor should it be. Whether they are Generals or Privates and Airmen, Admirals or Seamen, they all have equal rights to enjoy a legal product,” McCalla said.
The IPCPR isn’t waiting 20 years before it begins its fight for the rights of military personnel to enjoy tobacco, he explained.
“We let the anti-tobacco forces get away with spreading a lot of misinformation about smoking and secondhand smoke over the last two decades. Much of their so-called research is highly questionable and their conclusions are particularly biased. As a result, smoking bans have spread unfairly. We’re not going to let that happen by default in the military,” he said.
McCalla emphasized that everyone’s individual rights are attacked every time there is a legislated smoking ban.
“Each smoking ban chips away at our individual rights which leads to loss of other rights, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, premium cigars or use other tobacco products. It’s a right of choice and we are all affected,” he said.
Tony Tortorici

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