In response to recent letters condemning a move by the military to ban cigarette smoking in war zones, I won’t sanitize my comments.
While the U.S. Constitution, federal, state and local policies spell out certain individual rights, where in this plethora of legislation is a right specifically granted to use tobacco in any form? There isn’t any, and there never has been. And "pursuit of happiness" nonsense doesn’t apply.
There is no "right to smoke," and the use of any tobacco product isn’t implied or granted. No right exists to introduce carcinogenic particles into the air I breathe. Smokers’ "rights" are, in actuality, an addiction to tobacco.
I wore an Army uniform for 30 years spanning Vietnam, the Serbian conflict and Iraq. During the 20 months I served in Iraq, I never felt the need to transfer any combat stress to an addiction opined by some medical experts to be stronger than addiction to heroin. The debilitating effects of tobacco use are well-documented in health studies, right up there with fiduciary reports dealing with any number of smoking-related cancers and other illnesses killing tens of thousands of nicotine addicts yearly.
I started smoking unfiltered cigarettes at age 12 and required 21 years to break that addiction. I always felt it was my personal habit and never once lit up without being in a designated smoking area or requesting permission from a homeowner to smoke, never taking any offense at being asked to go outside. Compare that to this new age of belligerent, in-your-face aggressiveness.
The U.S. military establishment has an obligation to members of all service branches to once and for all enforce a total ban on sale, purchase or use of such addictive and potentially fatal tobacco products.
Col. John C. Hudson (retired)Anbar province, Iraq