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Military cheap cigarettes discount up in flames as defense spending bill passes

Cigarettes displayed at a tobacco shop; Cheap military cigarettes may be coming to an end
Cigarettes displayed at a tobacco shop; Cheap military cigarettes may be coming to an end
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Military cheap cigarettes may be a thing of the past soon, and you probably didn't even know the discount existed, unless you happen to be a smoker who qualifies for the controversial discount. Members of the armed services are currently able to purchase tobacco products from commissaries and exchanges, including chewing tobacco and cigarettes, at a generous 25 percent discount. However, a $549.3 billion defense spending bill passed by the United States Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on July 15, 2014 included verbiage to eliminate that discount beginning October 1, the start of the fiscal year.

According to Military Times, Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman Rep. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, referred to the elimination in the military of cheap cigarettes as "a common-sense [sic] decision to give troops less incentive to use tobacco."

Durbin spoke against the practice of offering a discount to use a product that in turn may cause health problems, addiction and even death. If and when the military cheap cigarettes ban goes into effect, tobacco products would still be sold in in military exchanges and commissaries but at full price. However, the measure still needs to pass the House of Representatives, and that could potentially be an uphill struggle.

DBTechno reported that in the the military, cheap cigarettes cost eighty-five cents less than the same cigarettes sold elsewhere, and members of the military are one-hundred and fifty percent more likely than civilians to be smokers. While one in five civilians reportedly smokes, the number of smokers in the military rises to one in three.

Do you think the increased number of tobacco users in the military is due to the cheap cigarettes discount? Or could outside factors such as stress be the cause? Comments are welcome.