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Women’s smoking history prior to entering the US Navy: a prospective predictor of performance
  1. Terry L Conway1,
  2. Susan I Woodruff1,
  3. Linda K Hervig2
  1. 1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T L Conway
 Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, 9245 Sky Park Court, Suite 120, San Diego, CA 92123, USA; tconway{at}


Objective: To examine whether women’s tobacco use prior to entering the US Navy is predictive of subsequent career performance. A priori predictions were that smoking at entry into the Navy would be related to early attrition, poorer job performance, more disciplinary problems and lower likelihood of re-enlistment.

Methods: A prospective cohort analysis of 5487 women entering the US Navy between March 1996 and March 1997 was conducted. Navy attrition/retention and career performance measures, such as time in service, early attrition, type of discharge, misconduct, number of promotions, demotions and unauthorised absences, highest paygrade achieved, and re-enlistment were examined.

Results: Compared with never smokers, daily smokers at entry into the US Navy had subsequent career outcomes consistently indicating poorer job performance (eg, early attrition prior to serving a full-term enlistment, more likely to have a less-than-honourable discharge, more demotions and desertions, lower achieved paygrade and less likely to re-enlist). Other types of smokers consistently fell between never and daily smokers on career outcome measures.

Conclusions: For women entering the US Navy, being a daily smoker is a prospective predictor of poorer performance in the Navy. Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of cessation intervention with smoker-enlistees prior to their entering the Navy, to assess the impact on subsequent career outcomes.

  • CHAMPS, Career History Archival Medical and Personnel System
  • OSQ, Operation Stay Quit
  • RTC, Recruit Training Command

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  • Funding: This research was supported by the FY03 Department of Defense (DOD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) Supplement to the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), award no. W81XWH-04-1-0203.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • The views expressed in this article and Naval Health Research Center technical report #06–08 are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the US Government.

  • All procedures used in this research were approved by the Institutional Review Boards at both San Diego State University and Naval Health Research Center, San Diego.