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Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 Apr;10(4):653-61. doi: 10.1080/14622200801978730.

A formative examination of messages that discourage tobacco use among junior enlisted members of the United States military.

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Department of Informatic Medicine and Personalized Health, School of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA.


Smoking prevalence among junior enlisted members of the United States armed forces significantly exceeds that of civilians. Furthermore, nearly 40% of junior enlisted who smoke reported they initiated smoking after joining the military. Although the tobacco industry has attempted to develop messages that encourage military members to use tobacco, no research has examined messages that would counteract industry messages and effectively discourage military members from using tobacco. This study conducted 24 focus groups on four Air Force and two Army installations (N = 189 personnel) to discover effective messages that discourage tobacco use among junior enlisted personnel. Four message themes were identified that hold promise for tobacco control efforts in the military: (a) smoking harms one's ability to positively influence others, (b) smoking increases the chance a military member will be discharged from the military prematurely, (c) smoking lowers readiness to fight and win wars, and (d) smokers are not as productive as other military personnel. In contrast, messages focusing on manipulation by the tobacco industry and the health effects of tobacco use were not strongly supported by military personnel.

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