Each soldier has his or her own way to relax in between drilling and other duties. Some may chat with friends, while others play video games to unwind after a long day. However, a large majority of soldiers supplement these relaxation activities with tobacco use.

According to statistics from the American Lung Association, 30 percent of members of the Armed Forces smoke, with 9.5 percent of those qualified as "heavy smokers." In the Navy, the overall rate for smokers is 31.2 percent. Due to these high numbers, Navy officials are now considering a branch-wide ban on tobacco use while on bases or ships, the Navy Times reported. Though no official policies have been made public yet, a prohibition on cigarettes and chew would be the latest move by the Navy to cut down on tobacco use by its sailors.

Orders from on high
According to the Navy Times, Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty indicated that high-level discussions had taken place regarding top officials' opinions on ways to combat high rates of tobacco use among sailors in the Navy. Cmdr. Tamara Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, said that the potential drawback on the prevalence of smoking and smokeless tobacco would be the latest in a long line of initiatives aimed at improving the physical fitness of sailors.

"Tobacco use is the most avoidable public health hazard in the Navy and Marine Corps," Mabus wrote in a statement to the Navy following the revocation of subsidies for tobacco products on base commissaries in 2012. 

While the Marine Corps is not expected to be affected by any subsequent decision on tobacco products, neither Mabus nor his spokeswoman would confirm their exemption.

Fighting against tobacco use
Stars and Stripes outlined the vast number of steps the Navy has taken over the years to discourage the use of tobacco by sailors. In the 1990s, smoking breaks were eliminated for troops and separate areas were established apart from non-smoking sailors on ships and submarines. Smoking in the latter was abolished outright in 2010.

The Navy has also fought a back-and-forth battle with Congress over the sale of tobacco on its ships and bases. After Capt. Stanley W. Bryant of the USS Theodore Roosevelt banned all tobacco sales on his ship, a group of Congressmen legally required the commissaries restocked with products and moved the authority on smoking to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation department.

Mabus' most recent efforts may see similar pushback from Congress and the tobacco lobby.