Sep. 26, 2011 U.S. soldier smokes a cigarette while manning his post in a bunker in eastern

If you re a member of the military, easy access to cigarettes could soon go up in smoke.

The Department of Defense is considering banning the sale of cigarettes on ships and bases in an effort to get service members to stop smoking.



The Pentagon says no final decision has been made about banning sales to the troops, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a Vietnam vet, explained why he has asked for a review.

“The costs, health care costs, are astounding. Well over a billion dollars, just in the Department of Defense, on tobacco related illness and health care, Hagel explained Monday during a Pentagon press conference before leaving for a 10 day trip to Hawaii and Asia.

Now, the dollars are one thing, but the health of your of your people, I don’t know if you put a price tag on that. So I think it does need to be looked at and reviewed.

A March 14 Defense Department memo issues guidance to all the service chiefs

“Although we stopped distributing cigarettes to our Service members as part of their rations, we continue to permit, if not encourage, tobacco use. The prominence of tobacco products in retail outlets and permission for smoking breaks while on duty sustain the perception that we are not serious about reducing the use of tobacco.”

The memo was signed by Jessica Wright, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs.

Already, there is push back from Capitol Hill. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R CA, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq, said it is politics, not the health of the force, that is driving the DoD consideration.

I think because they want to turn the Marine Corps into a Job Corps or the Peace Corps basically, Hunter told Fox News. I kind of see this you know, for lack of a better term, the unmanning of the US military.

Hunter argued some of the traits that are unhealthy in society at large are the traits of a good warrior. He wrote a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has taken the lead in pushing the idea of banning tobacco sales on ships.

Having spent time around Marines and sailors through multiple deployments, I believe there are far more immediate priorities for the Navy and the Marine Corps, all of which require your leadership and attention, Hunter wrote to Mabus on March 28. I want to express my strong opposition to this idea.

In an interview with Military Times, Mabus said it was a matter of protecting the health of the force.

“We demand that sailors and Marines be incredibly fit,” Mabus said. “We know tobacco hurts that fitness. We know the cost of health care far exceeds any profits we could possibly make selling that.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Cathy Wilkinson added in a statement, “Tobacco use costs the DoD an estimated $1 .6 billion annually in medical costs and lost work time. We estimate 175,000 current active duty service members will die from smoking unless we can help them quit.”

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem based correspondent.


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In October, Ms. Saunders convened a student advisory board to discuss how to approach e cigs. They said What s an e cig? Ms. Saunders recalled, and she showed what she meant. They said That s a vape pen.

Health officials worry that such views will lead to increased nicotine use and, possibly, prompt some people to graduate to cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration is preparing to issue regulations that would give the agency control over e cigarettes, which have grown explosively virtually free of any federal oversight. Sales of e cigarettes more than doubled last year from 2012, to $1.7 billion, according to Wells Fargo Securities, and in the next decade, consumption of e cigarettes could outstrip that of conventional cigarettes. The number of stores that sell them has quadrupled in just the last year, according to the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, an e cigarette industry trade group.

The emergence of hookah pens and other products and nicknames seems to suggest the market is growing well beyond smokers. Ms. Zacks was among more than 300 Bay Area high school students who attended a conference focused on health issues last month on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Many students talked about wide use of e hookahs or vaping pens saying as many as half of their classmates had tried one but said that there was little use of e cigarettes.

Ms. Zacks said the devices were popular at her high school here. E cigarettes are for people trying to quit smoking, she said, explaining her understanding of the distinction. Hookah pens are for people doing tricks, like blowing smoke rings.

James Hennessey, a sophomore at Drake High School in San Anselmo, Calif., who has tried a hookah pen several times, said e hookahs were less dangerous than e cigarettes. He and several Drake students estimated that 60 percent of their classmates had tried the devices, that they could be purchased easily in local stores, and that they often were present at parties or when people were hanging out.

E cigarettes have nicotine and hookah pens just have water vapor and flavor, said Andrew Hamilton, a senior from Drake.

Actually, it is possible for e cigarettes or e hookah devices to vary in nicotine content, and even to have no nicotine. Mr. Querbach at Romman said that 75 percent of the demand initially was for liquids with no nicotine, but that makers of the liquids were expanding their nicotine offerings. Often, nicotine is precisely the point, along with flavor.

Take, for example, the offerings of a store in San Francisco called King Kush Clothing Plus, where high school students say they sometimes buy their electronic inhalers. On a counter near the back, where tobacco products are sold, are several racks of flavored liquids that can be used to refill e cigarettes or hookah pens. The flavors include cinnamon apple, banana nut bread, vanilla cupcake, chocolate candy bar and coconut bomb. They range in nicotine concentration from zero to 24 milligrams about as much as a pack of 20 ordinary cigarettes but most of the products have some nicotine. To use the refills, it is necessary to buy a hookah pen, which vary widely in price around $20 and upward.

It is also possible to buy disposable versions, whether e cigarettes or hookah pens, that vary in nicotine content and flavor. At King Kush, the Atmos ice lemonade flavored disposable electronic portable hookah promises 0.6 percent nicotine and 600 puffs before it expires.

Emily Anne McDonald, an anthropologist at the University of California, San Francisco who is studying e cigarette use among young people, said the lack of public education about the breadth of nicotine vapor products was creating a vacuum so that young adults are getting information from marketing and from each other.

We need to understand what people are calling these before we send out large surveys, Dr. McDonald said. Otherwise the responses do not reflect reality, and then you re back to the beginning.