Tobacco sales may soon be banned on U.S. military bases, U.S. Navy ships

soldier smoking
Life Magazine cover from WW II

Remember the ubiquitous image of a dog-faced World War II soldier smoking a Lucky Strike between shellings from the Nazis? Well, that image has come a long way.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel came out last week and said he is considering banning all tobacco sales on military bases.

Hagel was quoted as saying:

“We don’t allow smoking in any of our government buildings. Restaurants, states, [and] municipalities have pretty clear regulations on this. I think in reviewing any options that we have as to whether we in the military through commissaries [or] PXs sell or continue to sell tobacco is something we need to look at. And we are looking at it. And I think we owe it to our people.”

A recent DofD study showed that smoking rates among people in the military is slightly higher than among civilians — about 24 percent to 20 percent.

No word when such a recommendation might be coming forward.


Additionally (nice sidebar on this story), the Navy is considering banning tobacco sales on all of its ships. Surprising, a commander actually tried to ban tobacco sales on his ship — the USS Theodore Roosevelt, back in 1993, but get this, a Congressional subcommittee got involved (wonder if Big Tobacco got in the middle of this) and mandated that tobacco sales be allowed on all vessels. Then the Navy passed a regulation allowing smoking on all ships. Unbelievable!

According to Stars & Stripes:

Although the statute was overturned later by Congress, the story of the Roosevelt demonstrated the former power of the tobacco lobby and its interest in the military market.

In 20 years, times have changed. The Navy now does not allow sailors on active duty to take “smoking breaks.