- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2020

The U.S. Army’s young troops will soon need to venture off base to buy a pack of cigarettes or a can of Copenhagen.

Corey Fitzgerald, the Army Public Health Center’s lead for Army Tobacco Free Living, spoke to Military.com this week about a new Defense Department directive set for Aug. 1.

“You have to have a photo ID; you have to show that you are the appropriate age, over 21, to purchase these products,” he told the website on Thursday. “Research has shown that raising the legal age of [tobacco sale] to 21 likely reduces youth tobacco initiation use.”

Tobacco 21 law, also called the T21 policy, is another move in the service’s attempt to “eliminate tobacco use in the Army in 2025.”

“We know that those soldiers don’t do as well on their [physical fitness] tests; it takes them longer to heal and … there is a direct correlation between tobacco use and musculoskeletal injuries,” Mr.  Fitzgerald added. “We are asking them to support the law because the bottom line is it’s our enduring obligation to take care of our people, and the health and welfare of our soldiers and their families is of the utmost importance for our continued readiness.”

Retailers have until July 1 to inform customers of the upcoming change.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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