Lung group warns that smoking is 'clear and present danger' to soldiers, military

The American Lung Association (ALA) on Wednesday warned that smoking among soldiers has disastrous effects on the nation's military.

Appearing before the Senate Appropriations defense subpanel, H. James Gooden, ALA's chair of the board of directors, told lawmakers that the "alarming use" tobacco in the armed forces "has severe consequences." 

“It impacts troop readiness, impairs physical capacity, vision, and hearing, and increases the chance of physical injury and hospitalization,” Gooden said in written testimony.

ALA says that more than 30 percent of active duty members smoke cigarettes — a figure that jumps to more than 50 percent for those stationed in Iraq. 

The group is urging Congress to reinstate funding for a $20 million program to research the breadth of lung cancer in the military. Last year, Congress trimmed that program by $5 million.