Prevalence and Correlates of Cigarette Smoking Among Operation Iraqi Freedom-era and Operation Enduring Freedom-era Women From the Active Component Military and Reserve/National Guard

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Abstract

Background:

Tobacco use adversely affects the health and readiness of military personnel. Although rates of cigarette smoking have historically been elevated among men serving in the military, less is known about tobacco use in servicewomen.

Objectives:

To examine the prevalence and correlates of tobacco use among women serving in the Active Component (AC) and Reserve/National Guard (RNG) as well as factors associated with starting to smoke during military service.

Methods:

Cross-sectional surveys of 1320 women serving in the AC or RNG were used to examine cigarette use in servicewomen. Associations between self-reported tobacco use history, sociodemographics, military service, and psychosocial factors were investigated using logistic regression analyses.

Results:

Thirty-six percent of servicewomen had a lifetime history of cigarette use, with 18% reporting current smoking. Thirty-one percent of lifetime smokers initiated smoking during military service. Factors associated with current smoking included pay grade, marital status, use of psychotropic medications, past-year alcohol use, and lifetime illicit drug or illegal prescription medication use. An enlisted pay grade, being white, and a history of deployment were all associated with starting to smoke during military service.

Conclusions:

Although progress has been made in reducing the gap in tobacco use between military and civilian populations, nearly 1 in 5 servicewomen in our sample smoked cigarettes. Further efforts are needed to address tobacco use in this population. In addition to providing resources to assist smokers with quitting, additional attention should be given to preventing smoking initiation, particularly among deployed female personnel.

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