Thursday, July 16, 2009

US war zone troops 'can smoke'.

There are some things that you just couldn't make up.

American troops are not to be banned from smoking in war zones, the US Defence Department says.

The decision comes despite a recent study which recommended the US military should be tobacco-free.

Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said US troops were already making enough sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, did not want to add to the stress of the troops by taking away their right to smoke.

But Mr Morrell said the Pentagon would examine the recent study to see what else could be done to move towards banning tobacco in the military.

He said: "Obviously it is not our preference to have a force that is using tobacco products."

I mean, when one looks at the places that the US troops currently find themselves, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is anyone seriously arguing that tobacco is the greatest threat to their well being?

And yet someone has produced a report stating that the US army should be tobacco free in the next twenty years.

The Pentagon has said it supports the idea and believes it is "achievable".

The report, commissioned by the Pentagon and the US Veterans' Administration (VA), said the Pentagon spends more than $1.6bn (£1bn) every year on tobacco-related medical care, hospital treatment and lost days of work.

It said that rates of tobacco smoking in the military have increased since 1998, and may be as high as 50% among service personnel returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It would be far more useful were the Pentagon to vow to make the wars which the US military have to fight "lie free" within the next twenty years. Never again have the troops marched into wars looking for weapons which do not exist.

That is a nobler purpose than telling men in a battlefield that tobacco might damage their health.

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