The retired colonel in Anbar province, Iraq, was correct in his interpretation of the rights, or nonrights, of smokers ("Smoking ‘rights’ don’t exist," letter, Aug. 20).

It is however, the soldiers’ privilege to make that call. Since there is no dating, drinking or even questionable reading material allowed in theater, soldiers need something (if they choose).

I, too, was in Vietnam (during the Tet Offensive); I smoked. I stopped here in Iraq five years ago. I did not stop because it was bad for me or because others did not like it. That did not bother me at all. I stopped because I could get [cigarettes] cheaper in Texas than here.

One thing the letter writer did not mention is that drinking "rights" don’t exist either. If you check the figures, more people are killed or injured in alcohol-related incidents than smoking. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. These are adults (be it young, in many cases); they can make up their own minds.

Combat Stress offices offer stop-smoking classes; that is how I stopped in one week after 45 years. It works. Get the information out to the troops.

Richard MartinCamp Bucca, Iraq

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