The top US naval officer has vowed to stop people lighting up in submarines, where the confined atmosphere has serious passive smoking implications, a report said Monday.
"We are going to stop smoking on submarines," Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead told a recent meeting of senior submariners, according to the Navy Times magazine.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Mark Jones confirmed a ban could be in the pipeline, telling AFP: "We are currently looking at changing the policy, but we have not changed the policy."
At present, smoking on US submarines is up to the commanding officer's discretion and there are designated areas on many vessels where the crew are allowed to smoke.
"That atmosphere moves around the submarine. You don't smell it but the damaging things from the smoke are still present," Roughead was quoted as saying by the Navy Times.
A Pentagon study last year carried out by the American Institute of Medicine revealed that soldiers smoke a lot more on average than civilians and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had seen a spike in smoking.
The last official figures for the US military, in 2005, showed that almost one third of personnel in the armed forces, 32 percent, smoke as opposed to just one in five of the American population as a whole.
Jones said up to 40 percent of US submariners smoke, making it all the more important to look into a ban for the overall health of American sailors.