Smoke 'em if you got 'em
Folks like me who heard the above phrase frequently during our military training are most likely stunned by a story out today that says the Pentagon is weighing the possibility of making the armed forces smoke free at some point down the road. Images of soldiers catching a smoke on the front lines are as old as photography itself, and studies show that military people smoke at a higher rate than civilians. Staff Sgt. Jerry Benson, who is serving with the Army in Afghanistan, doesn't like the idea of a ban. He told the AP, "Your nerves get all rattled, and you need something to calm you down." Benson needn't worry, however, unless he's planning a very long career in the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has no plan to impose such a ban. The idea stems from a study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Veterans Administration, and the authors of the report were looking toward a ban perhaps 20 years down the road. Certainly, there are costs associated with smoking, primarily for treating illnesses linked to lighting up. But where do we stop in legislating or commanding healthy living? Will superior officers someday have to follow their men and women home to make sure they're not using too much butter on their rolls? Will they ban beer drinking by the troops? Good luck with that. These are battles that the military probably shouldn't be fighting.