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Women’s smoking history prior to entering the US Navy: a prospective predictor of performance


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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