Tags: Navy | may | ban | tobacco | sales | CVS

Navy Considers Ban on Tobacco Sales on Its Bases, Ships

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 10:33 PM

By Jason Devaney

First it was CVS pharmacies that promised to stop selling tobacco products in their stores. Now the U.S. Navy may do the same thing.

According to a report in the Military Times, the Navy is considering banning tobacco sales on its bases and ships across the world. Navy commissaries do not sell tobacco, but other vendors and retail outlets on bases do.

Navy Secretary Ray 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 that process," Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence told the Military Times. "[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."

The Navy has tried in recent years to curb tobacco use in its ranks. After banning the sale of tobacco products in commissaries, the service ordered that tobacco products not be sold at discount prices on bases and ships starting in 2012.

"Tobacco use is the most avoidable public health hazard in the Navy and Marine Corps," Mabus wrote in a 2012 memo, the Times reported. He added that about a third of all members of the Navy and Marines use tobacco.

According to the Times, top-level Navy officials are looking at the data on how a tobacco sales ban might impact profits for the Navy Exchange Service Command. The loss of funds could affect programs that center on morale, welfare, and recreation on bases.

A Military Times source said that if the Navy bans tobacco sales, the other branches of the military could follow suit. It is not clear whether the Navy ban would include Marine bases. That service is within the Department of the Navy.

In February, CVS announced it would cease tobacco sales in its more than 7,600 stores by Oct. 1.

"One of the first questions they ask us is, 'Well, if you're going to be part of the healthcare system, how can you continue to sell tobacco products?'" CVS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Troyen A. Brennan said about customer questions the pharmacy chain receives. "There's really no good answer to that at all."

President Barack Obama, a former smoker, also commented on the CVS decision.

"As one of the largest retailers and pharmacies in America, CVS Caremark sets a powerful example, and today's decision will help advance my administration's efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths, cancer, and heart disease, as well as bring down healthcare costs — ultimately saving lives and protecting untold numbers of families from pain and heartbreak for years to come," Obama said.

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