NEW DELHI: Making a pitch for turning all defence establishments, including naval ships, into “no-smoking zones”, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the sale of tobacco products through their canteens should be stopped.
In a letter to Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, he requested the Defence Ministry to revisit the policy of making available cigarettes and other tobacco products at a discounted price to the service members.
“We need our Armed Forces to be physically and mentally fit and avoid using substances that compromise their health, fitness and well-being.
“The argument that tobacco is necessary for service members devalues their long-term quality of life and ignores the military’s obligation to provide healthy, effective means of stress relief to service members,” Vardhan said.
The Minister pointed out that the availability of cheap tobacco products was sometimes described as a benefit to service members. According to him, there was no data available as to the extent of smoking in the Armed Forces and its impact on the defence personnel.
“The sale of alcohol and tobacco is commonplace in defence canteens. To my understanding, the Armed Forces have no policy on tobacco sale and its use.