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Smoke on the water… just not under it

Come December 31 of this year, there are going to be some irritable sailors aboard U.S. Navy submarines.

No more smoking on submarines... which was a such a good idea to begin with.

No, it’s not that they’ll have chauffeurs while visiting their favorite girls in port; it’s that the Navy has decided to make that the official day to begin banning smoking on submarines while they’re under the water.

To be completely honest, I’m a bit flabbergasted that there is smoking allowed on a machine that relies on air scrubbers and a circulation system to spread oxygen to sailors while dunked below the waves. I mean, I live in a state where come May there won’t be smoking in bars, let alone enclosed tin cans shared with other people months at a time.

The reason? Tests found “unreasonable amounts” of secondhand smoke aboard the vessels while submerged. Ummmm… no kidding.

The announcement could be hand-in-hand with the Navy’s decision in February to allow female sailors to serve along with the men as crew on submarines. I hope not, but who knows.

Lt. Cmdr. Mark Jones of the Commander Naval Submarine Forces out of Norfolk, Va., said about 40 percent of the submarine sailors are smokers.

The navy will help sailors who smoke by offering programs to help them quit and making nicotine patches and gum available on each boat. Talk to any smoker, however, and they’ll let you know just where you can stick those patches and gum when it comes to being compared to the real thing.

Individual commanders will have the discretion to allow smoking while the submarines are afloat—known as “zero depth”—but anytime the vessels sink beneath the surface, there will be no puffing allowed.

There’s going to be some testy sailors, I think, when this new rule goes into effect. Kim quit smoking in November and December 2008 and, well, I avoided getting her dander up most of the time in fear of the nicotine-craving creature who resided just below the usually-calm surface. Everyone just try to be nice to the guys (and gals!) who keep an eye on the nuclear weapons and reactors, OK? You don’t want that stuff going boom when they go boom thanks to a lack of cancer sticks.

In the end, this will be a good thing for many sailors as it will be a forced way to get them off of cigarettes and, likely, for good.

But it could be bad, too. Healthier members of the Navy, who now will be in close quarters with women who look good in uniform… at least we’ll have some pregnant ladies not worried about second-hand smoke while baking that bun in the oven.

Hey, if they can’t smoke, they’re going to occupy themselves and their cravings with other activities. The Navy asked for it, and now they’ll be installing nurseries amongst the torpedo racks. Honestly, I can’t wait to see the first sub with a “baby on board” stuck to it.

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