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Factors influencing cigarette smoking among soldiers and costs of soldier smoking in the work place at Kakiri Barracks, Uganda


Background Although Uganda has a relatively low prevalence of smoking, no data exists on cigarette use among military personnel. Studies in other countries suggests military service is a risk factor for tobacco use.

Objectives To assess prevalence and risk factors for and costs of smoking among military personnel assigned to a large military facility in Uganda.

Design A mixed methods study including focus groups, interviews and a cross-sectional survey of military personnel.

Setting Kakiri Barracks, Uganda.

Subjects Key informants and focus group participants were purposively selected based on the objectives of the study, military rank and job categories. A multistage sample design was used to survey individuals serving in Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) from June to November 2014 for the survey (n=310).

Results Participants in the qualitative portion of the study reported that smoking was harmful to health and the national economy and that its use was increasing among UPDF personnel. Survey results suggested that smoking rates in the military were substantially higher than in the general public (ie, 34.8% vs 5.3%). Significant predictors of smoking included lower education, younger age, having close friends who smoked and a history of military deployment. Estimated costs of smoking due to lost productivity was US$576 229 and US$212 400 for excess healthcare costs.

Conclusions Smoking rates are substantially higher in the UPDF compared to the general public and results in significant productivity costs. Interventions designed to reduce smoking among UPDF personnel should be included in the country's national tobacco control plan.

  • Low/Middle income country
  • Priority/special populations
  • Public policy
  • Disparities

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