The governor’s ban on tobacco use on state property has veterans afraid they’ll be encouraged to leave veterans centers if they smoke. Those who join the military agree to give up many freedoms and take personal risks to defend our country. They also have an inclination to other legal risk-taking behaviors such as drinking, tobacco use, motorcycle riding and delicious chow.
Unfortunately these risky personal choices are at odds with the current lifestyle craze. So, today’s warriors are faced with conflicting messages. They’re recruited and trained to take mortal risks on the battlefield but, good heavens, not those risks.
Despite a zero-tolerance smoking and alcohol prohibition during the 11-week boot camp, most resume smoking. Many are unknowingly self-medicating the deleterious effects of stress, especially in combat zones. It improves vigilance and reduces weight gain. Smoking rates continue to be higher among veterans compared to nonveterans, especially in the younger population just returning from combat.
Oklahoma’s poorer citizens and too many from the military/veteran population pay the regressive Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) sin “tax.” This “free money” is redistributed to dubious programs like the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. If these prevention programs were actually successful and fewer people smoked tobacco, the state would lose revenue. So there is an inherent incentive by state governments to keep the free money flowing. The states help the established tobacco manufacturers sell tobacco and programs to demean veterans for our risky behaviors.
The MSA needs a cessation program.