Welcome to my non-WoW rant of the day!
I don’t know if you’ve read this, if you’re aware of it, or even if you care.
According to a news story in USA Today from last Friday, a recent study by the Institute of Medicine, a study specifically requested by the VA and the Pentagon, recommends that there be a complete ban on all tobacco use for the United States Military, to ban it’s use on military property, and to ban it’s sale on Military property.
Okay, you can read the article yourself. It’s available online, and it all boils down to banning tobacco use by any military personnel… and it’s use on base as well, which would by extension mean no smoking bans would be enforced on all military property… any bets on if that would include on-base housing where the civilian families of active duty military members live?
Now, before I share my thoughts on this, let me give you my perspective on smoking.
I started smoking cigarettes in my first year or two in the US Marines. I smoked quite heavily by my personal standards, perhaps as much as a pack, pack and a half a day. I would sometimes, when on deployment and not expecting to spend much time in the field, take my pipe and some cans of tobacco with me because it would last longer and be cheaper than cartons of cigarettes.
When I spent a year in Okinawa, I switched to smoking clove cigarettes in a black paper wrapper with a gold foil ring, just because it was different. About 9 months in I heard that they could make your lungs bleed, so I quit that and went back to cigarettes. Spent most of my time in Okinawa running every day, there’s a very old Marine saying that when stationed in Okinawa, and single, there’s two ways you could go; drinking like a fish, or running like a gazelle. I ain’t much of a drinker. I got my time in the bars in, but they were mostly in a few quiet places off-street that played Jazz and catered to the local sake drinkers… and I loved sitting in a quiet bar drinking warm sake and listenening to the Yellowjackets or Shadowfax on a Saturday afternoon. But for the most part, I ran, and my lungs seemed healthy… but bleeding? Ick, better give that shit a wide berth, my friend.
During one particularly long deplyment in the desert, I ran out of tobacco, both cigarettes and pipe tobacco, and my buddy happened to still have quite a few ‘logs’ of spearmint Skoal long cut in his pack, so he handed some over… and I happily switched my tobacco use to Skoal smokeless tobacco. I figured it might help my run time anyway, if I stopped putting crap in my lungs.
I continued to use Skoal, and smoke the occasional cigar with Manny, for a long time. By the time I got close to being married to Cassie, I’d been using tobacco in one form or another full time for 15 years. And, hey, I’ll be honest here; I loved it. I never found a single thing not to like.
Cassie told me early on that she did not like my using tobacco. She thought my chewing tobacco was nasty, the spit cans were disgusting, and the thought of kissing me after having that stuff in my mouth was nauseating.
I’ll blame it on the tobacco.
So I quit. And no, I don’t mean I chased around with patches and gum and whatever, I just mean I quit. I stopped using it, buying it, or having anything to do with it.
I guess it’s been a little over 8 years now, and aside from having a cigar once or twice with Manny when listening to the Tim Malloys play locally in a bar (The Half Time Rec Center), I haven’t gone back. I don’t have secret stashes, I don’t sneak cigarettes around. I just stopped. And, since Manny moved to the east coast, I haven’t even had a cigar in years, damnit. How am I supposed to cultivate a reputation for drunken debouchery if my only drinkin’ and smokin’ buddy moves to Virginia?
So I am a former Marine Corps veteran, heavy tobacco user that has quit tobacco use, and has been clean for 8 years.
This is still, the whole military smoking ban, in my opinion, utter bullshit.
Why? It’s healthier, right?
It’s bullshit, because it comes down to control. Legislators that apparently want to control the activity of as many people as possible. I truly believe that.
There seem to be certain people that look around for someone else that they can control, someone whose lives they can tweak and jerk around on a whim as though they were slaves, and their eyes settle on the ignorant myrmidons, the active duty military, and a piggish gleam shines in their eyes.
“Hey”, they say, “We own them, we can make them do whatever we want. They have to do what we say, or get thrown in jail. Cool. ”
And so, hey, let’s ban cigarette use for active duty military. Let’s take away their choice. We’ll save money, and that’s a good thing!
I assure you, if they could take away the ability for military personnel to vote, they would. I ain’t kidding, either.
Military personnel, so long as we continue to have an armed force consisting strictly of volunteers, so long as there remains no active draft, are free to join willingly, understanding what they’re getting in for. There are damn few people I served with that would have ever said, “Oh hell, if I serve my country they won’t let me smoke? Hell no, man, I’m gonna go to Canada instaid. Take away my right to light up, hell no.”
As we used to say, USMC, “U Signed the Muthaf&*#in Contract”. If you couldn’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined up.
Once in, service members are serving under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the rules and regulations that they live under are not the same as civilian citizens of the United States. It’s perfectly acceptable for the rules to change so it’s not allowed for service personnel to be forbidden from smoking.
Why a UCMJ? This state of affairs exists because a combat situation is no place for the rule of committee. Period. A clearly defined chain of command, top down, with specific rules of behavior, strict discipline, is critical to the continued success of our armed forces.
Do you really think this situation was put in place so that a group of legislators could decide what is best for other people, and then take steps to ban an activity… which, once banned, would mean that a violation of that ban could cause loss of rank, privilidges, and even up to or including time in the brig depending on how strict a hard ass the officer overseeing the incident chooses to be?
Personally, I don’t like smoking in my presence anymore. My home is smoke free, and Cassie and I only go to places where there is no smoking, because being around smoke makes me feel… dirty. Gets in the hair, gets in the clothes, I smell it lingering hours later, get back from the club and if there was smoking, I need to take a shower before going to bed.
That does not mean that I think that other people should have their right to choose what they want to do taken away from them.
“Oh, but it’s dangerous! They could die!”
Yes, that’s true. But in my world view, that is not a compelling argument.
Driving a car is also dangerous. Other people driving their cars around me is dangerous to me. (Especially since I’ve seen those people, and they should not be allowed to drive a golf cart, let alone an SUV. And get off the damn phone, moron! If your speed and lane stability varies once you’re on the phone, then you are too stupid to control a motor vehicle at 60 mph and talk at the same time! Shut it the *(^% off!)
Should everyone be banned from driving because they may get in an accident and die? Should you be forbidden from driving because you could get behind the wheel, get in an accident and kill someone else?
It’s regulated here, we have tests, we have laws for whats safe and whats not… but in the end, the choice of whether or not to drive is left in the hands of the citizen.
Ice skating is dangerous, skiing is dangerous, surfing and playing football and sunbathing are dangerous.
Heck, should we forbid people from going out in the sun with exposed skin because they are risking skin cancer?
No, in my opinion there is no difference in degree. It comes down to whether you think people have the right to make certain life altering decisions for themselves, or if you feel that they are cattle that need to be told what to do, whether they like it or not.
I am solidly on the side of folks having the right to do what they want, so long as what they choose to do does not harm or endanger the lives of anyone else.
If the concern is that people will smoke in enclosed areas that endanger others with second hand smoke, than regulate it, have tests, and make sure people have to be educated about smoking in well ventilated areas so as not to endanger others.
You ban it outright, and you’re showing that your only concern is control of behavior, without regard for personal choice.
I already said we don’t like second hand smoke. For us, not so much for health as for the smell and lingering odor. For Alex, we just don’t want it around him. When my mom came to visit us a few years ago, and she smokes like a chimney, she spent a lot of time out on the patio, smoking. She had the choice of staying at our house and respecting our wishes on smoking, or getting a hotel room. She stayed at the house, and she didn’t smoke in the house, because we didn’t want it in the house near our son.
Choice. We didn’t tell her she couldn’t smoke, we said she couldn’t smoke in our house. And we made damn sure there were alternatives available (like a comfy patio with chairs, umbrella, swing, coffee pot, etc.)
It’s what freedom is all about. The freedom to choose for yourself… and it seems to be the one thing that politicians truly delight in taking away from those they can.
Will it happen? It’s probably inevitable.
Will life as we know it end? No, no it won’t.
Will the Marines move on and switch to downing Monster and Red Bull (until that gets banned)? Probably. Hell, I would.
The fact of it happening isn’t all that important in the long run. You already aren’t allowed to smoke in uniform in garrison, at least you weren’t when I was in the Marines, on most bases. It looks unprofessional. You don’t do things in uniform that look unprofessional.
But this goes deeper than that, down to a desire to control the bahavior of people that enlist in the armed forces, because they can.
It’s not mentioned as being done out of consideration for the health of the service personnel, out of kindness or human decency, it’s described as the recommendations of a study looking at whether banning tobacco use would save money in future health care costs. It would, so go do it.
Well, how much money is wasted in hospital stays due to car accidents? Maybe we should ban the use of personal automobile transportation, and switch to light rail, trains and busses for everything. It would save money in future health care costs!
In fact, let’s have a panel to examine every aspect of our lives, and if there is a potential for health care costs as the result of an activity, it should be banned… for our own good, of course.
Hey, and while we’re at it… let’s institute some controls on how much food people are allowed to eat per meal per day. We need some rationing cards. People in this country are getting too damn obese, and clearly the solution is to decide for them when they are allowed to eat, what they’re allowed to eat, and how much. That should cut down a lot of future health care costs, right?
Yeah, after all, thats’ the principle this country was founded on… the right to control or ban any behavior that might lead to increased health care costs for the government, on the average, further down the road.
Endrant, endrant, endrant.
Agree with me or not, it’s just another thing that when I read it, it makes my eyes bleed.