Tuesday, August 10, 2010

No More Smokes for Deployed Troops

Apparently, the smoking lamp will soon be out in combat zones.
The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009 quietly took effect June 29. It cut off those care packages by effectively requiring that tobacco be sent with one particular kind of U.S. Postal Service shipping that requires a signature for delivery but does not deliver to most overseas military addresses.[…]

The law was created to prevent minors from ordering cigarettes through the mail and to prevent trafficking by requiring tracking and confirmation that the recipient is old enough. It allows small shipments of tobacco products, but only via Express Mail because that's the only postal service product that meets the identification requirements under the law.

"The issue is that Express Mail is not available to some overseas military destinations, primarily Iraq or Afghanistan," said Beth Barnett, spokeswoman for the postal service in Tennessee.

Families don't have any other options for shipping cigarettes. The law only affects the U.S. Postal Service because UPS and FedEx do not allow consumer-to-consumer shipping of tobacco.
Interestingly, bans of this nature customarily foster black market operations and it's hardly arguable that black markets are a field of expertise possessed by the military. I suspect that servicemen and women will find a way to get their smokes.

However, there's also this little element to keep in mind.
The military has been trying to reduce smoking among soldiers and vets, including banning indoor smoking and ending smoking on submarines by the end of the year.

The Pentagon laid out a plan in 1999 to reduce smoking rates by 5 percent a year and reduce chewing tobacco use to 15 percent by 2001, but wasn't able to achieve the goals. And the Defense Department received a study last year recommending the military move toward becoming tobacco-free perhaps in about 20 years.
Frankly, I contend that Congress needs to quit the nit-picky social engineering of the military. It kills morale. Ironically, even a condemned man is offered a smoke before being shot by a firing squad.

I suspect that if liberal politicians get their way, the battlefield, with bombs bursting and people dying, will ultimately be regulated as a smoke-free workplace.

[Add.] Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he does not plan to take away soldiers' smokes since he doesn't want to increase the stress and strain of fighting in a combat zone. On the other hand, Gates said it's "not our preference to have a force using tobacco products."

Of course, the problem isn't getting permission to smoke. It's getting the smokes. The new law prevents sending cigs to the troops.

[Add.] On target comment:
I pity the Taliban unit that decides to attack some soldiers who’ve run out of cigarettes. There won’t be any prisoners. Can anyone tell me how many soldiers in combat have died from smoking?
Thanks to This Ain't Hell.

Companion post at The Jawa Report.

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