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Nicotine and The Army

Nicotine is more addictive than heroin, alcohol, or cocaine.1a

Although unknowingly, the US Army was directly responsible for introducing millions of young people to cigarettes and the nicotine addiction (which is now considered a Disease) that followed. In my case, my outfit spent about half of its’ time in the field because it was a “Guided Missile Field Artillery Battalion”.  While in the field we were often issued C-Rations for food and necessities that included Cigarettes.  This introduction to cigarettes was to begin the hidden destruction of millions of lungs, hearts and other human parts. (The Author)

Through the use of tobacco, nicotine is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs and the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S. Cigarette smoking accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., and about 38,000 deaths per year can be attributed to secondhand smoke.

Nicotine is highly addictive. The tar in cigarettes increases a smoker's risk of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases.1

Advanced neuroimaging technologies make it possible for researchers to observe changes in brain function that result from smoking tobacco. Researchers are now also identifying genes that predispose people to tobacco addiction and predict their response to smoking cessation treatments. These findings—and many other recent research accomplishments—present unique opportunities to discover, develop, and disseminate new treatments for tobacco addiction, as well as scientifically based prevention programs to help curtail the public health burden that tobacco use represents.2

Nicotine, Field Food and the Army

When operating in the field without the aid of field kitchens, troops were generally issued C-Rations for food and other needs. At  left is a photo of the basic package. 

Originally, the accessories and condiments were put in a 12-ounce can. However, their bulk led to the development of an accessory package.

(Notice in the prominent foreground (At Left) is a package of “Old Gold” cigarettes.  Other brands included, Camel, Chelsea, Chesterfield, Craven "A"-Brand, Lucky Strikes, Philip Morris, Player's, Raleigh, and Wings.)3

 The accessory can shown was later  changed to a brown paper wrap.

The brown butcher paper accessory pack contained sugar tablets, halazone water purification tablets (for a brief period in 1945), a flat wooden spoon, a piece of candy-coated chewing gum, 3 "short" sample 3-packs or one "long" sample 9-pack of commercial-grade cigarettes and a book of 20 cardboard moisture-resistant matches, a paper-wrapped P-38 can opener printed with instructions for its proper use, and several sheets of toilet paper. The P-38 can openers were generally worn on the GI's "dog tag" chain to facilitate opening the next meal's cans.

In 1945, the accessory pack was modified. Per the order of the Surgeon General, the halazone tablets were removed and salt tablets were added. Also, feedback from the field revealed that soldiers who smoked often opened up accessory packs just to get the cigarettes and threw away the rest of the items. To reduce waste, the accessory pack was now divided into the "short" pack with cigarettes and matches and the "long" pack containing the other accessories.

The food canned entrée originally made of stew meat (a mixture of beef and pork) seasoned with salt, various spices, and chopped onions. They initially came in three varieties: Meat Hash, Meat Stew with Vegetables (carrots and potatoes), and Meat Stew with Beans. The commonplace nature of the menu was intentional, and designed to duplicate the menu items (hash, stews, etc.) soldiers were normally served as A or B rations in Army mess halls.

Another new menu item, "Meat & Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce" was added in 1943. In mid-1944 Chopped Ham, Egg, and Potato; Meat and Noodles; Pork and Rice; Frankfurters and Beans; Pork and Beans; Ham and Lima Beans; and Chicken and Vegetables were introduced in an attempt to increase the C rations' period of continuous use, while the unpopular Meat Hash and equally unpopular experimental "Mutton Stew with Vegetables" meal were dropped. In the final revision, "Beef Stew with Vegetables" was added in 1945. By all accounts, after the meat hash and mutton stew, the Ham and Lima Beans entree was the most unpopular; despite continued negative field reports, it unaccountably remained a standard entree item not only during World War II, but also during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.4

 

-30-


1a  Henningfield et al., 1991, Brit. J. Add.

3 Koehler, Franz A., Special Rations for the Armed Forces: Army Operational Rations - A Historical Background, QMC Historical Studies, Historical Branch, Office of the Quartermaster General, Washington, D.C. (1958)

4 Granfield, Linda, I Remember Korea: Veterans Tell Their Stories of the Korean War, 1950-53, Clarion Books, 2003 ISBN 061817740X, 9780618177400, p. 48:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugpages/nicotine.html
2. http://www.drugabuse.gov/researchreports/nicotine/nicotine.htm 

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