California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter sent Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf a letter Thursday wanting answers as to why tobacco products can no longer be sent to troops in care packages.
Hunter referenced a new FDA regulation that went into effect in August that prohibits tobacco companies from donating tobacco products, else they’ll face fines. While the rule could be interpreted to eliminate free samples, for fear of violating these regulations, tobacco companies and charities have also stopped including cigars, dip and cigarettes in care packages for troops currently on mission.
“Tobacco manufacturers and distributors have long taken part in a time-honored tradition of donating tobacco products to service members, often while deployed,” Hunter said in the letter. “These donations routinely improve morale and serve to relieve stress.”
“It would be unacceptable for the FDA to prohibit the distribution of tobacco products to service members who are fighting to protect those very rights that may now be restricted,” Hunter added.
The Obama administration has been pushing to restrict tobacco from public life and even the military. In April, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter sent a memo removing tobacco discounts on military installations and raising the price to meet the level of local markets. Designated smoke-free zones were also made larger.
It’s estimated that tobacco costs the military $1.6 billion per year, due to the health impacts, namely respiratory issues and slower healing.
But for Hunter, health risks are completely beside the point.
“You, or anyone else there who doesn’t care to go fight, or wants me to do it for you, I get to smoke cigars,” he said, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“I don’t care,” he said. “When it comes to guys overseas fighting, I don’t care.”
Since tobacco relaxes troops’ nerves and calms them down in traumatic situations, Hunter thinks they should be able to use tobacco without being hassled by bureaucrats.
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