OBJECTIVE To examine the effect of a unique organisational smoking ban on female United States Navy recruits, a population with historically high smoking rates.
SETTING AND DESIGN Study participants were female recruits (n = 5503) entering the Navy recruit training command between March 1996 and March 1997 (12 consecutive months). Participants completed smoking surveys at entry to recruit training (baseline) and again at graduation from training after exposure to an eight week, 24 hour a day smoking ban. Effects of the ban on baseline to graduation changes in perceptions of being a smoker were examined, and relapse rates among baseline ever smokers was assessed three months after leaving recruit training.
RESULTS Among all recruits, 41.4% reported being smokers at entry (that is, reported any smoking in the 30 days before entering recruit training). As a result of the ban, there was a significant reduction (from about 41% to 25%, p < 0.001) in the percentage of all women recruits who reported themselves as smokers, a much larger change than expected had no ban been in place. Relapse at the three month follow up varied according to the type of smoker at entry into the Navy, with rates ranging from 89% relapse among baseline daily smokers to 31% among baseline experimenters.
CONCLUSIONS Findings suggest that the ban provides some smokers who desire to quit with an external impetus and support to do so. However, high relapse rates indicate that more than an organisationally mandated smoking ban during recruit training is needed to help younger smokers, more regular smokers, and those who intend to continue smoking to quit after joining the Navy.
- smoking ban
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