April 24, 1996

Tobacco 'Recruiting' May Precede That of Military

JAMA. 1996;275(16):1219. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530400007003

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MILITARY MEDICINE is continuing its struggle against tobacco in the uniformed services.

But physicians for the US Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Army, and Air Force say that tobacco companies often have recruited young people to the ranks of smokers before the uniformed services convince these youths to enlist.

Results of the US Department of Defense's latest Survey of Health Related Behaviors Among Military Personnel, to which 16193 service members responded during a 4-month period last year, indicate that about 34% of soldiers, 35% of marines, 25% of air personnel, and nearly 35% of sailors smoked cigarettes during the previous month.

These percentages are an improvement over those recorded in 1980,1982, 1985, 1988, and 1992. But they also are above the US Public Health Service's Healthy People 2000 objective of no more than 20% of military personnel continuing to smoke and there is concern that any decline in smoking among