The Pentagon has said that it won't ban troops from smoking in war zones, despite a recent study recommending a tobacco-free military.
The study by the Institute of Medicine calls for a phased-in ban over a period of up to 20 years. It recommends requiring new officers and enlisted personnel to be tobacco-free, eliminating tobacco use on military installations, ships and aircraft, expanding treatment programs and eliminating the sale of tobacco on military property.
Fox News quoted Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, as saying that troops already are under enough stress and making enough sacrifices in fighting the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Morrell said Gates will look at the study to see what other things can be done to move toward a goal of a tobacco-free force.
An advocacy group, however, is strongly condemning the push by Pentagon health experts to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end sales of tobacco products on military property.
Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United, decried even the discussion of such a ban.
"With all the issues facing our military today and the risks our troops take to protect our freedom, banning smoking should not even be on the radar screen," Wise said in a written statement Wednesday.