Combat Soldiers Allowed to Smoke After All | NBC New York

Combat Soldiers Allowed to Smoke After All

Thumbs up to Pentagon for quashing rumors of war-zone smoking ban

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    Fortunately, we'll still be seeing plenty of this in war zones.

    Justice at last!

    After releasing a report suggesting the military should try to outlaw smoking in its ranks within the next 20 years or so, the Pentagon has made an important clarification: they'll still let you smoke, as long as you're serving in a war zone.

    News of the report earlier this week made people so very very mad, and for good reason: it's kind of dumb to send people into combat, where there's a very decent chance they'll be killed, and then impose behavioral restrictions in the interests of their long-term health.

    Not to mention that it comes across as a little ungrateful to begrudge the troops, who routinely make great sacrifices for the rest of us, a minor indulgence that's still both ethical and legal.

    So bravo to Bob Gates and his spokesman, who made it clear that combat troops could still have their cancer sticks:

    Press secretary Geoff Morrell pointedly told a Pentagon news conference that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is not planning to prohibit the use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco or other tobacco products by troops in combat.

    "He knows that the situation they are confronting is stressful enough as it is," Morrell said, noting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I don't think he is interested in adding to the stress levels by taking away one of the few outlets they may have to relieve stress."

    So seldom do you see a story these days in which government policy actually makes sense, or benefits somebody who isn't a bank, that this is welcome news indeed.

    Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.