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 ReedOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices Week ahead: Negotiators near deal on defense bill MORE (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownLawmakers play catch-up as smartphone banking surges Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas House votes to eliminate Olympic medal tax 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.