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End of smoking on bases is urged

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Fred Zamora remembers a much different time in the military -- an era when soldiers were given a pack of cigarettes with their food.

"It was part of your meal," he said. "It came in a little package, four in each package. Camel used to be the brand."

These days Mr. Zamora, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars and the commander of American Post 205 in Augusta, said some at his post still smoke but "the majority of them have stopped."

As someone who never took up the habit, Mr. Zamora said he is glad to hear about a recent Institute of Medicine Committee study that recommended eliminating tobacco use among veterans and current service members.

"We can save thousands of lives if they stop smoking," he said. "I've seen some of my friends that have gone down the drain because of smoking."

The plan, if adopted by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, would no longer allow tobacco use on military bases or institutions and would forbid the sale of tobacco at military bases.

Marla Jones, a spokeswoman for Fort Gordon, said The Post Exchange and the Commissary sell cigarettes. However, there already are some restrictions on smoking at the post.

"All buildings are smoke-free, and some of the trainees are prohibited from smoking for a short period of time (approximately two weeks) when they first arrive here for training," she wrote in an e-mail. "If the trainees pass all tests and meet all the military requirements, they are allowed to smoke only in designated areas."

She also said that Eisenhower Army Medical Center has had smoking cessation programs for several years.

The Institute of Medicine Committee study, issued in June and commissioned by the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs, supports such programs but also calls for greater efforts to curb smoking among service members and veterans.

"The committee recommends that DOD (the Department of Defense) establish a time line to eliminate all tobacco use on military installations to protect the health of all military personnel, civilian employees, family members, and visitors," the study states. "The committee finds that achieving a tobacco-free military begins by closing the pipeline of new tobacco users entering the military and by promoting cessation programs to ensure abstinence."

The study says that tobacco use can impair a soldier's readiness and result in "enormous health and financial costs." It says smoking should be treated the same as alcohol abuse or poor physical fitness.

Until the sale of tobacco in military commissaries and exchanges is stopped, it says, "DOD should at the very least sell tobacco products at prices equal to those in local civilian retail stores."

With regard to veterans, the study supports cessation programs and a smoke-free policy at VA health care facilities.

"But federal legislation that requires VA medical facilities to establish designated smoking areas has precluded VA from going entirely smoke-free," according to the study, which finds that the military should work with elected officials to have such legislation repealed.

Cynthia Smith, a DOD spokeswoman, said her department has long advocated tobacco control and recently developed a "Quit Tobacco-Make Everyone Proud" campaign, which can be accessed at www.ucanquit2.org.

"The department supports the goal of a tobacco-free military," she said. "However, achieving that goal will in part depend on coincident reductions of tobacco use in the civilian population.

"We look forward to using the committee's findings and recommendations as we address this challenging health and readiness issue."

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

LESS THAN 20: Percentage of Americans using tobacco

30: Percentage of active-duty military personnel using tobacco

22: Percentage of veterans using tobacco

50: Percentage of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who smoke, as opposed to nondeployed military

$1.6 BILLION: Amount the Department of Defense spends each year on tobacco-related medical care, increased hospitalizations and lost work days

Source: Institute of Medicine Committee

MILITARY SMOKING NUMBERS

Fewer than one in five, or less than 20 percent: Americans using tobacco

30: percentage of active-duty military personnel using tobacco

22: percentage of veterans using tobacco

50 percent higher: the smoking rate among military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as opposed to non-deployed military

$1.6 billion: amount the Department of Defense spends each year on tobacco-related medical care, increased hospitalizations and lost work days

Source: Institute of Medicine Committee

Comments (16) Add comment
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Callisto
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Callisto 07/17/09 - 02:50 am
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"We'll let you make the

"We'll let you make the choice to enlist and put your life at risk to serve your country, but we aren't going to let you make the choice on smoking. You are allowed to get shot and blown up, but you can't have a smoke to calm your neves afterwards." I'd recommend the news services have their crews in place the day they try and ban smoking in the last couple of places it's allowed at VA medical facilities - it won't be pretty......

andywarhol
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andywarhol 07/17/09 - 06:52 am
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It'll never pass, because of

It'll never pass, because of the Union. There is a law that there is no smoking within 50 feet of a government building. That doesn't exist at all buildings on Fort Gordon because of the Union. Unless there is a covered area provided to all civilian workers for smoking, they will be allowed to smoke right next to the entrance under the overhangs. IF they cannot stop them from smoking now, I doubt they'll ever be able to.

melzbelz
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melzbelz 07/17/09 - 08:12 am
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So, our president can smoke,

So, our president can smoke, but the soldiers can't? Wow. I don't smoke, but that just doesn't sound right to me.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 07/17/09 - 08:45 am
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It's amazing! I'm seeing my

It's amazing! I'm seeing my freedom of choice in a number of things, slowly being taken away. I have no problem with making it a requirement to go outside to smoke, but to make the whole military institution smoke free is overboard. I guess they will have to set up a small pavillion outside the gates so that those who choose to still smoke can get into their cars, drive outside the millitary gates for a smoke break. It's about as dumb as the higher tax on sodas and fast foods.

curly123053
7136
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curly123053 07/17/09 - 08:50 am
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I feel sorry for those who

I feel sorry for those who allow themselves to be controlled by a foreign substance like cigs. I thank God I had better sense than to smell like I came from the pits of hell like some smokers do. It also has something to show for a person's lack of self respect.

patnick30907
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patnick30907 07/17/09 - 09:01 am
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Remember the time when

Remember the time when America tried the great experiment, banning alcohol and what a great success that was? If you try to ban smoking, you will haVe GI's,Marines, etc. sneaking around, breaking the laws, and cigarette smugglers on the base, what next?, dogs or old ladies with hypersenstiVe noses sniffing out American's finest for the smell of that deVil weed, tobacco! For the record, I am a disabled Veteran who uses an electronic cigarette called Njoy because I am addicted to nicotine so I haVe cheated in a way. Restrict it if you must but don't ban tobacco outright, it won't work, and people who would neVer break a rule or a law will break one because of their addiction. And you haVe heard that one before.

mad_max
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mad_max 07/17/09 - 09:01 am
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Hey curly....don't like

Hey curly....don't like smokers? Don't go around them. They probably don't like your sanctimonious azz either. Thank God the whole world don't have to live by your rules.

AAQueen
18
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AAQueen 07/17/09 - 09:13 am
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I've been a smoker for a long

I've been a smoker for a long time and have quite countless times. I'm down to 1-2 cig a day. I've never smoked more than half a pack a day. It's hard to quite. Everthing I do remind me of smoking.
If by banning it on base will deter smokers I think they should, BUT it must be for everyone to include civilians.

mrlonglelgs
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mrlonglelgs 07/17/09 - 09:23 am
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population control

population control

jus sayin
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jus sayin 07/17/09 - 09:57 am
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Umm, alcohol is a problem for

Umm, alcohol is a problem for soldiers also, why not ban the sell of that on post. Oh and what about twinkies and other fattening foods, why not ban the sell of sweets too, soldiers are overweight all these effect their readiness.

irish62009
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irish62009 07/17/09 - 10:56 am
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Seems like a better way to

Seems like a better way to save thousands of lives is to ban war and bullets entering a human body,and curly12-what ever your number is,there's a little line in the bible about "Thank God,I'm not like other men".Judging your fellow man also STINKS!

bumblebeerose
724
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bumblebeerose 07/17/09 - 11:43 am
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Our government needs to leave

Our government needs to leave this alone. It is a persons choice if they want to smoke. I smoke but I also have respect for those that do not. I do not smoke in my house or in my car when I have non-smokers in my car. I have no problem going out side to smoke been doing it for years. I really think our so called government has more important things to worry about like the major unemployment, we have no jobs in this country now. So now they are going to ban smoking by the Military and put more people out of work? This is such a joke we have more important things in this country that need to be fixed than this issue. Our schools are running out of money unemployment is running out of money fix this first. Our government allows foreign countries to come here in the USA and buy our companies and shut them down and move them to their home countries that is a problem, what are the employees supposed to do when we do not have jobs to go to. Fix the real problems then worry about something that really is none of there business.

InChristLove
22491
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InChristLove 07/17/09 - 12:31 pm
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A little bit of

A little bit of self-righteousness going on there curley? I agree, smoking is a nasty habit. Any kind of addition is, but last I heard this was a free nation and as long as the addition is legal what right do we have to dictate which habits people have. Would you like it if they forbid you to drink your Mt. Dew or drink your coffee? What about if you just have to have chocolate, would you want someone dictating whether you could have it or not. I have no issue with making individuals who smoke, go outside and far enough away from a building so others don't have to smell it coming and going but to band the whole base? What will be next?

Mike_Futrell
3
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Mike_Futrell 07/17/09 - 01:05 pm
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So 30% of soldiers smoke...

So 30% of soldiers smoke... 31% of America is obese and 63% is overweight so maybe we should ban all fattening foods?

MtnMan
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MtnMan 07/17/09 - 10:42 pm
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With God's help I finally

With God's help I finally quit smoking 9 years ago...it took about three or four tries...again,I thank God for this nine years smoke free and for the rest of my life too!..Now I don't even like the taste of coffee! Tobacco and Nicotene were my best friends at breatfast....for sometime I felt asif I lost my best friends.
While in the Military I paid $1.10 for a CARTON of cigarettes! On Airlines I was given the little four pack of my favorite cigarettes Don't give up men...it can be done!!

mad_max
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mad_max 07/17/09 - 10:51 pm
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They should have never run

They should have never run this story today. It was denied by DOD yesterday. It was only listed as a "goal" in a study and there are no plans to ban smoking.

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