Senate Democrats urged the Navy to stop the sale of tobacco products on ships and bases.
Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Jack ReedJack ReedThe Hill's 12:30 Report Dem Sen. Reed to oppose Gorsuch Dems introduce MAR-A-LAGO Act to publish visitor logs MORE (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary Dems question potential Kushner real estate deal with Chinese firm MORE (D-Ohio) sent U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus a letter over the weekend expressing their opinion on the issue the Navy is currently considering.
The Navy makes a nearly $90 million profit a year from selling tobacco products on bases and ships, but the senators said the Department of Defense looses 20-times that amount on the lost productivity and health costs later.
“While smoking rates among active-duty military have decreased in the past few decades — similar to the trends that we are seeing in the civilian population — DOD should do more to lower the smoking rates among active-duty military,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to do everything in your capacity to address this issue for our military men and women, including moving forward with the proposal to stop the sale of tobacco aboard all naval bases and ships.”
The senators said they appreciate the Navy’s efforts to stop smoking on submarines and providing benefits for those trying to quit, but that the rate of military personnel who smoke is 10 percent higher than the general population. They said in part that was because the wide availability of tobacco products on bases and ships make it harder for people to quit.
Mabus is expected to make a decision about selling tobacco products on bases and ships soon.