Playboy, Penthouse will no longer be sold at Army, Air Force exchanges

Playboy, Penthouse and other adult magazines will no longer be on the shelves at Army and Air Force exchanges — a move based on falling sales rather than the result of pressure from anti-pornography activists.

The 48 "adult sophisticate" magazines being dropped are among a total of 891 periodicals that will no longer be offered by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Other titles getting the ax include English Garden, SpongeBob Comics, the New York Review of Books and the Saturday Evening Post.

Just last month, Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, reportedly responded to a complaint from Morality in Media in a July 22 letter by saying that a review board had scrutinized those magazines and determined that “based on the totality of each magazine’s content, they were not sexually explicit under [federal law].”

Morality in Media, an anti-pornography group, had complained about the sale of sex-themed magazines on Department of Defense property.

The group claimed that the display and sale of adult magazines in military posts amounts to a violation of the Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996, which prohibits the sale or rental at military exchanges of material in which “the dominant theme ... depicts or describes nudity, including sexual or excretory activities or organs in a lascivious way.”

Morality in Media officials released the letter from Vollrath, saying his response “would be hilarious if it were not so tragic,” adding that it’s puzzling why the Pentagon would continue to sell pornographic magazines while in the midst of a sexual exploitation scandal.

The Washington-based group applauded the reversal, calling it a “great victory” while asking operators of Navy and Marine Corps exchanges to follow suit.

“It is a great victory that the Army and Air Force exchanges will finally stop selling sexually exploitive magazines,” Dawn Hawkins, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “Hopefully the other branches will follow suit or Secretary Hagel will order their removal from all bases.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.