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Am J Health Promot. 2009 Mar-Apr;23(4):241-6. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.070919100.

Factors which influence tobacco use among junior enlisted personnel in the United States Army and Air Force: a formative research study.

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



Despite the implementation of a host of tobacco control initiatives, tobacco use among active duty members of the U.S. Military remains high. It has been suggested that a positive culture of tobacco, which drives consumption, exists in the military. However, little is know about factors that impact tobacco use among military personnel.


This study provides the first formative data on the culture of tobacco in the U.S. Military.


A total of 15 focus groups on six military installations were conducted (n = 189). These military installations were located throughout the continental United States and were of average size for each service.


Participants suggested that the primary method the military uses to discourage use is tobacco bans. Unfortunately, they also believed that the military accommodates tobacco use so that smoking remains convenient despite the bans on tobacco use. Smoking was believed to be encouraged through liberal smoking breaks, social interaction within designated smoking areas, and cheap and convenient tobacco products sold on military installations. Additionally, smoking was seen as an effective method to combat the stress and boredom of military life and to avoid weight gain.


Suggestions for addressing the culture of tobacco are suggested.

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