Tuesday, September 1, 2009

JMO - Let them smoke

I'm quite late on the debate to ban tobacco and smoking among the military. Timeliness is not one of my good traits. Anyway, to weigh in on the issue, I don't have a problem with servicemen and women smoking. Yes, it's a bad habit and yes it leads to problems later in life, but being the service, the hurry up and wait and the action then boredom hasn't changed.

It's the norm and has been the norm, probably going back to the Revolutionary War, but recently easily since World War II. Cigarettes are a way of life in the service. Even during my basic training, we had breaks and heard the often cited words, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em." I never smoked, so to me it wasn't anything important.

But my brother smoked from his teen years to the day he died at 48. I've written about my brother, Greg, and of his death, parts one and two. I will always miss him, but I will never regret he smoked. It's was a part of him, something to do while working, doing, and living.

I, on the other hand, never smoked. Ok, once for two puffs at 12 and felt I died. I never smoked again. I just don't have the genes to become addicted to cigarettes. And while I smoked cigars for a few years and pipes for another few, by age 30, tobacco was something forgotten. But I'm not one of them about smoking.

I'm not a zealot against tobacco, in any form, or against smoking. I don't mind the smoking ban in confined spaces, but I think it's over done and overblown by the public outcry. Smokers do deserve rights and places, besides outdoors, often in the heat or cold and rain or snow. They're people too. Ok, a bad vice, but who doesn't have vices?

But the military. Let's just leave this issue alone. Let it die quietly and let them keep smoking if they want to. After all, like all veterans like myself, there's worse things in the military and especially war than smoking. Hell, we spend more on bullets than they'll spend on cigarettes. Should we restrict bullets too?

Ok, exageration. But think about. They're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else they're stationed where war exists, and the last thing they need is someone saying, "Excuse me soldier, you can't smoke in here. Take it outside." Like where outside, in the war? Think about it, if it were you, or worse, your son or daughter.

So, folks, let's get real. Let them smoke if they got them. No one hurt enough to worry about considering the rest of their world and life. As for their future, let them get home first, alive, well and hopefully whole. That's far more important than banning cigarettes.

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