- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While I have no objection to the position in your editorial “Unlucky Strike” (Opinion, Thursday), I hope you do not go so far as to favor the program supported by the military in World War II.

I was drafted into the Army Air Corps in 1923 — a “goody good two shoes” when it came to smoking. I found that, even in basic training, smoking was not discouraged; to the contrary, on every break the leader would say, “Smoke if you got ‘em,” and most recruits had them because cigarettes were so cheap at the PX. Even C-rations contained cigarettes. To make matters worse, tobacco company representatives were permitted to go through barracks, show a visual aid on the pleasures of smoking and hand out sample packages of cigarettes to the GIs.

As time went on, it was rare to have a buddy who didn’t smoke. Eventually, I joined the crowd and became an addict.

I never felt that smoking relieved stress or made me more alert. I simply was hooked on nicotine, and I smoked for 50 years. At age 78, I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Luckily, chemo and radiation treatments were successful, and the cancer is in remission.

I gained much from my Army experience. My only regret is that it “taught” me to smoke.

WILLIAM H. MEGONNELL

Annapolis

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