PALM SPRINGS – Defense Secretary Robert Gates will consider a study by military health officials who recommend a total ban on smoking in the military.
Nearly a third of people in the military smoke. Hundreds of millions of dollars are also spent on smoking-related healthcare.
Joseph Mitchell picked up smoking during his six-year stint in the Air Force. He says smoking is part of the military culture.
“Almost everybody drank or smoke a little bit,” said Mitchell.”It was something to kinda ease the war of the times while we were in the military.”
Another Air Force veteran Dan Jones points out that smoking is already prohibited in certain military buildings.
“I think you need to leave it up to the individual and whether they want to smoke or not,” Jones says. “They already set aside areas for smoking.”
If approved, the smoking ban will likely take a decade to phase in starting with people looking to join the military. The ban would start with service academies and officer-training programs like the ROTC.Then, it will expand to all active duty members.
According to the study, the Pentagon loses more than $800 million on smoking and tobacco-realted illnesses. Butmany believe there’s bigger dangers to serving their country.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal at all,” Mitchell says.”I think they’re risking their lives for us. I don’t know why other people are worried about it.
“They can stop it but it’s just gonna be more discontent for the military.”