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Navy Might Ban Tobacco Sales on Bases and Ships

Update Date: Mar 25, 2014 09:39 AM EDT

The United States' Navy is reportedly considering placing a ban on tobacco sales on all of its bases and ships. The sources from the Defense Department stated that the Navy might forbid tobacco sales at all the venues, which include exchange-operated retail outlets and base-operated retail outlets.

The Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant Commander (LT. Cmdr.) Sarah Flaherty, has confirmed this past Monday that the Navy is indeed discussing the sales of tobacco. However, officials have not arrived at a decision, which would be made at the Navy's highest level.

Even though banning all tobacco sales could provide numerous health benefits, the loss in sales could negatively affect the Navy. According to one source, prohibiting the sales of tobacco would reduce the profits for the Navy Exchange Service Command. Reduced profits could then lower the amount of money that goes into funding morale, welfare and recreation programs.

Smoking is the leading cause of premature death and disease within this country. The American Cancer Society reported that more than 43 million Americans still smoke and about 480,000 of them died in 2014.

"[Navy Secretary Ray Mabus] has implemented a number of initiatives to improve the culture of fitness in the Navy and Marine Corps, and curbing tobacco use is part of that improvement," Cmdr Tamara Lawrence, the spokeswoman for Mabus, said reported by USA Today.

She added, according to NBC News, "We've already taken one step by ending price subsidies for tobacco products, and Secretary Mabus has asked his staff to look at additional ways to improve the health and readiness of our force. We are in the early stages of this process."

This is not first time the Navy has discouraged smoking and the use of other tobacco products. In 2012, the Navy eliminated sales in its commissaries. The Navy then prohibited tobacco sales from being discounted in the Navy and Marine Corps exchanges.

"Tobacco use is the most avoidable public health hazard in the Navy and Marine Corps," Mabus had written back on March 2, 2012.

If the Navy decides to end all tobacco sales, other services could follow.

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