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Cigarette Smoking and Military Deployment: A Prospective Evaluation

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Stress of military deployment may compound occupational stress experienced in the military and manifest in coping behaviors such as cigarette smoking. Recent reports suggest smoking is increasing among deployed personnel. To describe new or resumed smoking among nonsmokers and change in daily smoking among smokers, in relation to deployment in a large population-based military cohort. The effects of extreme deployment experiences were specifically examined. The Millennium Cohort is a 22-year longitudinal study. The current analysis uses participants N 48 378 who submitted baseline data July 2001-June 2003 before the Global War on Terrorism GWOT, and follow-up data June 2004-January 2006 on health measures. New or resumed smoking among baseline nonsmokers. Increased or decreased daily smoking among baseline smokers. There were 8504 17.6 who deployed once to GWOT and 3049 6.3 who deployed multiple times between baseline and follow-up assessments. Among never-smokers, smoking uptake was identified in 1.3 of nondeployers and 2.3 of those who deployed. Among past smokers, smoking resumption occurred in 28.7 of nondeployers and 39.6 of deployers. Smoking increased 43.8 among nondeployers and 55.6 among deployers. Past smokers were 35 times more likely to smoke at follow-up than never-smokers odds ratio, 35.3 95 confidence interval, 31.8-39.3. Other factors independently associated with postdeployment smoking uptake included deploying for longer than 9 months, deploying multiple times, and deploying with combat exposures. Among those who smoked at baseline, deployment was not associated with changes in daily smoking quantity. Military deployment is associated with smoking uptake, particularly among those with prolonged or multiple deployments, or combat exposures. The strongest predictor for smoking uptake was having been a smoker in the past. Prevention programs should focus on prevention of smoking relapse during or after deployment.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Toxicology
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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