Tobacco use in the military unfortunately is very common. It is a proven fact that over 70 percent of the military use tobacco in some manner. No matter the age of the individual when they enter the military, even if they’d never used tobacco before in their life, for some reason they take up the habit of smoking, dipping, or chewing. The tobacco industry seems to make a lot of money supplying the military with its tobacco needs.
It is also a proven fact that smoking causes several different health care problems, such as lung cancer and lung diseases, and dipping and chewing cause mouth and throat cancer. Smoking, chewing, and dipping are all very expensive habits; the average cost of a pack of cigarettes is over 5 dollars and dip ranges from three to five dollars each. You now have to add in the trend of the E-cig that has the same effects as a normal cigarette and is just as expensive if not more.
Tobacco Use and Military Health
I have been at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for over a year now, and I have met several people that are fighting cancer or lung disease caused by chewing or smoking. I am sure when these soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen joined the military, they never thought they’d end up fighting for their lives in a hospital because of tobacco usage rather than overseas fighting the enemy.
I am not writing this article to bash people that use tobacco because just like they decided to join the military, they decided to use tobacco. I care deeply for each veteran past and present, the same as I do my own family. It is bad enough that we lose people at war. However, to lose people to the use of tobacco is even worse.
The military professionals care as much about your health as service members care about our freedom. There are many different medications free and readily available to those who want to quit tobacco usage. We as service members owe it to not only ourselves, but our units, and especially our families to stay as healthy as we can, no matter if we are still in the military, retired, or left the military.
What Should the Military Do About Tobacco Use?
The fight against tobacco is a tough subject and I know I won’t make any friends by writing this. However, I suggest the military not allow tobacco usage during work hours, not sell tobacco products at the PX, and get rid of the smoking areas outside the barracks and the mess of cigarette butts and huge wads of chew or dip covering the ground. The military can include tobacco use in general order one, which currently limits drinking alcohol while on duty, and have commanders enforce it. The use of tobacco and its long term effects are just as dangerous as the use of alcohol. If you are using tobacco, seek the help that is available to help you quit.
Good luck and good health to you all!