Tobacco Companies Have Clout Over The Pentagon!
There is a twelve-person committee in Congress called the House
National Security Committee. They have a sub-committee. It is that panels
job as oversight civilians to, as I understand it, sort of police the military.
They are responsible for military morale, welfare
and recreation. Remember the "welfare" part for later.
The military sells $458 million of cigarettes and
chewing tobacco a year in government-subsidized supermarkets called
commissaries, at prices 30% to 60% less than prices in commercial grocery
Commissaries sell 58 million cartons of cigarettes
a year (to military personnel). Thats 11,600,000,000 (eleven BILLION with a B)
In addition to that, the Military Exchanges sell
another $288 million a year in tobacco products.
Arguably, the United States government is the
largest single distributor of cigarettes in the world.
Clearly, it is the only one to lose millions of
dollars doing so.
Now the Pentagon wants to change that. A new policy has been put forth.
The new policy could cut tobacco sales at commissaries in half and cost tobacco companies
as much as $200 million a year in sales.
Under the Pentagons plan, the government would
end its subsidy of commissary tobacco products in an effort to discourage
tobacco consumption among troops, and presumably save the taxpayer a few dollars
at the same time.
The subsidy now amounts to at least $30 million a
year. Tax dollars, every one.
Smoker or not, we pay for GIs to smoke at half
price. But thats not the really bad news.
On average, more than one of every three members of the military smokes
tobacco. Tobacco use by military personnel costs the agency (read that
as taxpayers, you and
me) more than $900 million a year in medical expenses and lost
Makes the $30 million we give the tobacco
companies look like pocket change, doesnt it? So the total taxpayer-borne
expense is just shy of a $1 billion a year, and climbing.
But at the urging of the tobacco industrys powerful lobby, a
panel of the House National Security Committee has demanded in a letter signed by all
12 members that the Pentagon cancel the price increase.
Can you believe these guys? Talk about puppets!
Tobacco, the congressmen said, is not the issue;
the main issue, they say, is that the Pentagon failed to consult Congress and
violated federal pricing rules that require the commissaries to sell all their
products at "the lowest practical price."
In other words, weve got to pay the
tobacco companies to poison our troops.
Its the law!
Of course, these people must see selling the
cigarettes at half price as "practical".
I found it very interesting that 11 of the 12 Congressmen on the House
panel who signed that letter, trying to block the Pentagons new plan, had received
money (contributions...or bribes?) in the two previous years from tobacco companies like
Many panel members are from tobacco-growing states like Virginia, and
defended the tobacco industry and their decision.
One such is Rep. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, whose
district includes one of the countrys largest Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Apparently Congressman John McHugh, representing
New York's newly redrawn 23rd District, found the exposure to his conflict of
interest so clearly and obviously unethical and embarrassing that he returned a
$500 contribution from Brown & Williamson.
Unless Im mistaken, ANY such contribution is
completely illegal. And remember, his job is the welfare of the military.
The tobacco industry had circulated a five-page
memorandum throughout Congress, prepared by a very expensive Washington law
firm, saying why we should keep giving the tobacco subsidy.
It sounds to me like they bought the best lawyers
they could to defeat the new policy.
32% of military personnel use tobacco products,
compared with 25 percent of the general population. Nearly 50% of all junior
enlisted Army personnel smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco.
However, retirees are buying 70% of the tobacco
products. Apparently the oldest and the youngest are smoking the most.
Diseases attributed to tobacco use account for about 16% of the deaths
in the military.
The combined total of deaths by cigarettes now exceeds
all other causes
of death to soldiers combined, including all wars.
So whos the real enemy?
It does look like common sense may prevail. There
have been arrangements made to negotiate and implement the Pentagons policy.
If an arrangement was not made by a certain date,
commissary officials said they would pull tobacco products off their shelves
until an agreement is reached.
As of this writing, I do not know if the agreement
is in place. However, I do know that all but five Navy and Marine Corps
commissaries stopped selling tobacco products years ago.
Perhaps, in the end, our government will desist
from assisting in the early demise of its troops by selling them poison at a
But the point of the above is, look how hard some
will try to keep killing them this way, just for a buck.