Union minister of state for health Harsh Vardhan, already known for his hard-line views against prophylactics and tobacco, has now written to the defence minister Arun Jaitley (who is also the finance minister) seeking a ban on the sale of tobacco products in defence forces canteens.
In the letter dated Monday, Dr Vardhan said the defence ministry should revisit its traditional policy of making available cigarettes and other tobacco products at a discount to members of the armed services.
The letter said that anti-smoking efforts had so far not focussed on health risks to thousands of armed forces personnel. The argument that military personnel need tobacco for stress relief devalues the quality of their life in the long run and ignores the military's obligation to provide healthy and effective means of stress relief to its personnel, Vardhan wrote.
All defence establishments, including naval ships, should be declared no smoking zones, he added.
He did not mention alcohol, which is also available at a discount to armed forces personnel.