Troops Fume Over Proposed Smoking Ban

'If I were forced to quit, I'd probably be unbearable,' says one
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2009 1:29 PM CDT
A proposal to make the military smoke-free is drawing strong reactions from troops, even though the Pentagon says any ban is a long way off.   (AP Photo/John Moore, File)
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(Newser) – Since the days of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s signature corncob pipe, through the rationing of cigarettes during World War II, smoking has been ingrained part of military culture. But a new proposal to introduce a smoking ban in the armed forces is sparking fierce opposition, with some saying it could cost the military personnel, the AP reports. “It’s an outrage,” says one staff sergeant, while another added, “Your nerves get all rattled, and you need something to calm you down.”

But doctors say nicotine acts as both a stimulant and a depressant, so while smoking may help reduce stress, it also creates it. Other proponents of the ban cite lower medical costs—which now top $1.6 billion—and increased productivity from the elimination of smoking breaks. The Pentagon insists any ban would be a long way off, but that hasn’t calmed some troops: “If you take it away from us entirely, you're going to have some very angry soldiers,” warns one.