OBJECTIVE To provide a comprehensive assessment of smoking prevalence and risks for smoking in an entire population of United States Air Force (USAF) military basic trainees (n = 32 144).
DESIGN Population-based survey with every individual entering the USAF enlisted force from August 1995 to August 1996.
SETTING USAF Basic Military Training (BMT) facility at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. All trainees were assessed during the first week of BMT.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES A 53-item questionnaire was developed to assess four domains: demographics, smoking history, risk factors for smoking, and other health behaviours.
RESULTS Approximately 32% of the trainees smoked regularly before basic training and a small percentage of the trainees (7.6%) described themselves as ex-smokers. Men, Euro-Americans, and those from lower educational backgrounds were more likely to smoke than other trainees. On average, smokers had smoked for approximately four years and had low nicotine dependence scores. Individuals who had smoked before BMT were more likely to use other drugs (such as alcohol, binge drinking, smokeless tobacco), and were less physically active than never-smokers. These findings were particularly strong for those who smoked up to basic training but were also evident for ex-smokers.
CONCLUSIONS Smoking is a prevalent risk factor among individuals entering the USAF. Furthermore, smoking was related to other risk factors believed to lower military readiness, including alcohol use and decreased physical activity. Comprehensive tobacco control policies aimed at reducing smoking among military trainees are needed.
- military trainees
- smoking prevalence
- United States
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