Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

They were discussing this one morning a few weeks back on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, and it was one of the rare occasions when I agreed with Joe Scarborough -- if you're over there in Iraq, in temperatures over 100 degrees, and you run the daily risk of getting your rear shot off, I'd say your entitled to a cigarette or two. Or a pizza with all the trimmings. Or a jumbo bag of M&M's.

I don't think cigarette companies should be specifically marketing to soldiers, but, no, I don't think there should be a ban, particularly in high-stress environments.

--Brad Hundt

August 26, 2009 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

The military has been smoke free in all of their establishments and barracks for quite some time. Even the Chiefs Club is indoor smoke free more than ten years now. At least they quite providing them in their MRE's. My husband use to smoke on the ship. It takes time to go down to the mess, eat and climb back up to the Flight Deck. A Smoke would tide him over. Happy to say, he no longer smokes since our child started smoking all of his toys.

August 26, 2009 at 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah -- wouldn't want to increase the odds of you dying before a bullet can hit you.

August 27, 2009 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Dawn Keller said...

Well, there are certain places we aren't allowed to send troops alcohol, Brant, so they have essentially banned beer drinking there.
I understand respecting culture and all, but I have to say that I think when our troops are putting their lives on the line in a war zone, they should be able to have a smoke or a beer if they want to.

August 27, 2009 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I can see the argument that we'd want our warriors to not be bogged down by the lung capacity of your average professional bowler... or to be sluggish due to an excess of miller lite carbs...

But they are, by definition, in a situation where they could get shot dead at any moment. Let em smoke!

I quit smoking a few months ago... if I found out there was an asteroid heading for earth and that there's a good chance we'd all be dead in a few months... I'd buy a carton of cigarettes and puff until my heart's content.

You quit smoking for the long term... if you are active duty in a war zone... you probably aren't worried about cancer.

August 27, 2009 at 4:21 PM  
Anonymous the anonymous one said...

I'm a ex solider, I've never smoked. I think the Army should ban smoking on motor pool days. It was a ghost town in the motorpool when our unit had motorpool days. I think I was the only one out there fixen Uncle Sams trash.

Stay alert stay alive, I could see the cateyes on the back of someones brain bucket up to 40 yards away, so a cherry is an easy target.

August 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM  

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