My 14 year old son had a great action packed day at school run by the army and RAF and decided he would like to join army cadets and see if the army might be a possible career choice. He has been twice now and loved it but I am very concerned that (he says) more than half of them smoke and there are certainly not more than half the group over the age of 16 ! Also, a more senior cadet assigned to show him the ropes told him he would be smoking within a year ! He expressed surprise as he has never shown anything other than disgust at smoking but was told that once he had been freezing cold on camp he would want a cigarette. I am not so stupid as to realise that in the regular army in the line of fire that the worries of what might happen in 20 years time to your lungs is not paramount when you might not survive the next patrol but army cadets won't be in this position. The thing that worried me most was that they were packing for a weekend camp and were told by the instructor to pack plenty of cigarettes as there was always people willing to sell them at highly inflated prices to the desperate !
If he decides to join I want to clear up the smoking policy with the cadet leader (apologies for the lack of correct terminology) but don't want to be seen as being over protective mum. Surely cadets promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle but it seems to be just accepted despite the age of the children (yes, they are only 12 some of them). I don't want my 14 year old son pressured into smoking to conform to the group but neither do I want to make things awkward by seeming over protective.
Can anyone involved in cadets offer some advice as to how to tackle this issue ?
Sounds like a load of bollocks to me. I spent a fair amount of time with cadets and can't remember seeing anyone smoking at all.
This sounds like an individual to blame, and I would suspect it to be one of the youth members in a senior no position, rather than one of the adult instructors.
There is absolutely no way that the cadet association nor the regular army would be condoning this practice, and indeed the army spends a huge amount of cash and energy promoting smoking cessation in all of their medical centres, with counselling and medication to help as appropriate.
No one wants a soldier whose lungs prevent him from doing his job.
I would be appalled. Get in there and ask who is promoting this. If it is indeed the case, the CO needs to be contacting his or her nearest army medical centre and getting them in to do some basic education on smoking etc.
Definitely not an institutional issue, definitely someone (a youth) trying to be cool and hard, and potentially in an influential position for other youth. Needs stamping on fast. And the unit needs to be banning cigarettes whilst they are on exercise. It is a youth organisation. They don't let them take hip flasks, why should they condone cigarettes?
Sadly I noticed it was a growing trends within the ACF when I visited a few units several months ago. Strangely I didn't see the same with the ATC and SCC, but I have to say I didn't go to enough units to make a general judgement.
As madwoman says, the CO needs to be informed of your concerns and from there he can discipline his SNCOs and older cadets. Smoking is banned on most cadet weekends anyway so hopefully it's not too widespread.
Tell your son in no uncertain terms that if he should end up at basic training in the army, he will regret every single cigarette he has smoked. Training was hell enough for me, and I've only ever smoked 2 cigarettes in my life!
I spoke to the Sgt in charge and he said smoking was discouraged and they had tried banning it in the past and it meant people sneaked off and dropped cigarette ends in places which could have been a fire risk. He said if my son could identify the cadet who told him he would be smoking in a year that he would have very strong words with them. He said he wasn't able to ban it as that wasn't the orders from above but my son came home and said that five mins after I left they told the cadets a complaint from a parent had been made about smoking and so they were banning it !!! So, he obviously can ban it but I'm not nit picking as the end result was what I wanted !
My son was less than impressed at being "public enemy number 1" in only his third week there as it didn't take much of a brain to work out that I was the only parent who had been in but he said last night they were getting over it !