Two House Members Want Study on Veterans and Smoking

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Representatives James Traficant (D-OH) has introduced and Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) has co-sponsored legislation calling for the establishment of a Presidential commission to study American military policy on veterans and smoking.

The lawmakers think a "President's Commission on Veterans and Smoking" should study the extent of past US military policy of providing soldiers with free cigarettes and whether such free cigarettes could have contributed to those soldiers becoming smokers.

Other topics the lawmakers think such a commission should study are the percentage of veterans who are smokers in comparison to the general population and the incidence and severity of smoking-related diseases and deaths among veterans compared to the general population.

The legislation also calls for such a commission, within two years of its formation, reporting to Congress on its findings and conclusions. Such a report would include recommendations on whether present military policies should be changed to better treat smoking-related illnesses among veterans.

If enacted, the commission would have 11 members with the chairman being appointed by the President and the rest of the members appointed by Congress.

"I am deeply concerned that not enough is being done to address smoking-related illnesses among veterans. A presidential commission is an effective way to focus on this important issue and develop concrete recommendations on what policy changes may be needed to better assist veterans," Traficant said on Capitol Hill.