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Am J Public Health. 2009 Sep;99(9):1595-602. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.152983. Epub 2009 Jul 16.

"Everywhere the soldier will be": wartime tobacco promotion in the US military.

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  • 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


Deployment of young Americans in military engagements places them at increased risk for not only war hazards but also tobacco addiction and disease. Tobacco use diminishes troop health and readiness, and increases medical and training costs. Military tobacco control efforts began in 1986, yet tobacco use remains high. To determine whether and how the tobacco industry targets military personnel in wartime, we analyzed internal industry documents about the Gulf War (1990-1991) and constructed a historical case study. During this conflict, tobacco companies targeted troops with free cigarettes, direct advertising, branded items, ways to communicate with family, and "welcome home" events. Military authorities sometimes restricted this activity, but frequently enabled it; tobacco companies were regarded as benefactors. Considering tobacco use a benefit undermines military health priorities. Stronger policy is needed to reframe tobacco use as incompatible with military ideals.

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