A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle.
According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.
I read the entire article and never saw what friends of mine with military backgrounds have told me repeatedly: if you smoke, you get more break time.
"Hey sarge, I'm gonna go light one up. Back in ten minutes."
And you're off. You're still on the clock, you're still technically "on duty," but you're taking a paid break. And it's only available to smokers.
"Hey sarge. I'm gonna go lean against that wall with my hands in my pockets. Back in ten minutes."
That'll probably get you laughed at or worse.
Now I'm sure this will differ from unit to unit, base to base, deployment to deployment, and branch to branch. Please! If you read this and have military experience, I'd love to hear your take on it.
If it's as broadly true as I've been anecdotally led to believe then the military has one more really good reason to ban smoking - it will increase productivity.
Of course they should then employ some decent management practices so that the overworked, undercompensated men and women in uniform can find healthy ways to decompress, blow off steam, take five, or whatever. Because let's face it... whether or not you smoke, sometimes you just need to take a break.