Tobacco back in military stores in northern Italy

Breakdown in delivery system blamed for recent shortage

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 15, 2009

Tobacco products are back on the shelves at U.S. military stores in northern Italy.

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco largely vanished from Army and Air Force Exchange Service outlets and Defense Commissary Agency stores over the last few months. AAFES, which is responsible for distributing the products for both agencies in northern Italy, blamed shortages on a change in its delivery system.

The system reportedly broke down when Italian Carabinieri officers, who have provided escorts on shipments from the ports to the bases for years, decided they would no longer do so. Instead, the commercial carrier that AAFES contracts with to bring the goods to the base outlets has hired its own security personnel, according to Lt. Col. Wayne Marotto, AAFES-Europe spokesman.

Italian customs officials require security escorts due to concerns about the goods finding their way on the black market.

Troops and civilians who use tobacco products in Vicenza passed steadily through the shoppette Wednesday afternoon when boxes of cigarettes and chewing tobacco were brought into the store.

"I’ve been itching for a chew," said a smiling Pfc. Noah Peschel, picking up a roll that included several cans.

Concerned over potential hoarding, the store in Vicenza initiated a policy limiting chewing tobacco purchases to a single roll each day. There were no such limits on cigarettes.

Rene Peiffer, a product representative, stacks cartons of cigarettes in the shoppette in Vicenza, Italy, on Wednesday. The store ran out of most tobacco products weeks ago. The shelves were full again Wednesday.

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