United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Release

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

News Release


IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 501-96
August 23, 1996

SALE OF TOBACCO PRODUCTS IN MILITARY COMMISSARIES

The Department of Defense announced today that starting Nov. 1, 1996, tobacco products in military commissaries will be sold at the higher prevailing military exchange rate prices. Customers will still be able to purchase tobacco products at commissaries, but the exchanges will be charged with managing the sale of tobacco.

Tobacco products sold in military commissaries are currently sold at lower prices than in the military exchanges which operate to return profits to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs. Under the new sales policy, the price of tobacco products in both the exchanges and commissaries will be the same throughout the services. Any additional earnings generated from the increased prices of those tobacco products sold in the commissaries will go to non-appropriated fund programs.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy Fred Pang said, We are taking this step to enhance our personnel readiness by discouraging smoking and promoting healthier lifestyles. Currently, the more deeply discounted prices of tobacco products in military commissaries send a mixed signal to our people about the seriousness of our tobacco cessation policy.

Although the Department has aggressively promoted tobacco deglamorization and smoking cessation programs, about 32 percent of military personnel still use tobacco products, well above the 20 percent Healthy People 2000 objective. The pricing change is aimed at discouraging the consumption of tobacco products.

Even a reduction in consumption of a few percentage points will reduce lost time and associated costs due to medical problems associated with tobacco usage according to Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Stephen Joseph. Time and again, tobacco has been cited as a health hazard. Since the military depends on its men and women to be as healthy as possible, it is most appropriate that incentives for unhealthy behavior be eliminated, or at least neutralized. This landmark action will promote healthier military communities for our service members, retirees and their families, he said.

Pang said, The bottom line for us is that we believe that we will continue to improve our personnel readiness by having a healthier force. This has already been proven by the reduction in the incidence of tobacco use which was at 51 percent in 1980. We will also benefit from healthier families and reduced medical costs.