• Defense Secretary Considers Jacking Up Tobacco Prices On Bases

    Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is looking into the possibility of raising tobacco prices on military bases and creating additional smoke-free areas in an effort to discourage use.

    While defense spokeswoman Laura Seal told reporters there’s no clear indication exactly how high the new prices might be, one option being considered by the Defense Advisory Committee on Tobacco (DACT) is requiring tobacco prices to “match the average price” in civilian areas, Military Times reports.

    Matching the price in civilian areas would serve to increase prices. It is not yet known when the DACT will pass along its list of recommendations to Carter, but the goal is increased tobacco control. Smoke-free areas may increase in size where second-hand smoke is a concern, namely in locations frequented by children.

    The Air Force has already gone ahead and issued additional regulations in March banning tobacco in recreational facilities, like beaches, parks and basketball courts.

    “In the Air Force, we’re committed to promoting tobacco-free living throughout. We’re not waiting for direction from DoD. We’ll continue to push forward,” said Air Force Col. John Oh, who also provided input to the DACT, according to Military Times.

    The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed in December 2014 by Congress included language which made banning tobacco itself impossible. One of the arguments continually forwarded by military personnel in opposition to calls to ban tobacco is that because troops are sacrificing their lives to protect American freedom, they should not have any fewer liberties than regular civilians.

    Language included in the NDAA represents a response to efforts by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to prohibit tobacco from Navy ships and bases. The DOD also floated the suggestion in a memo dated March 2014 of banning tobacco, although the memo did not suggest any concrete action, and legislators through NDAA made sure to put a stop to the idea. (RELATED: Tobacco Ban On Military Bases Doesn’t Pass Muster With Congress)

    According to that memo, tobacco consumption results in $1.6 billion dollars of health costs for the military annually.

    However, last year, the DOD did cave to anti-tobacco advocates by removing price discounts on tobacco in the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. And as experts suggest, higher prices entail lower rates of consumptions.

    Smoking has already been banned in military workplaces for 20 years, and tobacco consumption is consistently trending downward.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter


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