Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Bans Smoking on Subs for Health; Cessation Classes Will Be Offered to Educate Sailors about Their Alternatives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Bans Smoking on Subs for Health; Cessation Classes Will Be Offered to Educate Sailors about Their Alternatives

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS - Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer John Crouse remembers when smoking was banned at duty stations on submarines in the early 1980s.

"There were no restrictions where you could smoke," he said. "It was like a bar."

The similarities to smoke-filled bars will disappear on submarines with the new year, however, as the Navy forbids smoking from bow to stern.

A smoking ban on submarines, announced Thursday that takes effect Dec. 31, was recommended by the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughhead.

The motivation for the change is the health risks to non-smokers from secondhand smoke.

"Our sailors are our most important asset to accomplishing our missions," said Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander of Submarine Forces.

Navy officials estimate between 30 and 40 percent of the 13,000 sailors serving on submarines smoke cigarettes at designated areas. While air scrubbers remove most of the smoke, there are still unacceptable levels of secondhand smoke in the atmospheres of submerged submarines, according to the Navy study that led to the ban.

Crouse remembers when thick smoke was acceptable.

The worst part was leaving a smoky duty station and returning to the chiefs' quarters where everyone puffed cigarettes during off hours, he said.

"There were times I had to leave," he said.

Donnelly said allowing some sailors to smoke is unfair to those who choose not to, and the only way to eliminate the risk to the non-smoking sailors is to stop all smoking aboard submarines.

While the intent of the ban is for health reasons, there may be other advantages, said Patrick Conklin, a retired petty officer first class. When he joined in 1982, the Navy's smoking policy was "fairly liberal," Conklin said.

He remembers cleaning a sticky, yellow substance off the mess deck's ceiling and realizing it was tar from cigarettes. …

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