Smoking among males in the UK Armed Forces: changes over a seven year period

Prev Med. 2010 May-Jun;50(5-6):282-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.03.006. Epub 2010 Mar 15.


Objectives: We assessed socio-demographic and military factors associated with smoking among males in the UK Armed Forces; made comparisons with the general population; and, tested the hypothesis that smoking has declined in the Armed Forces.

Methods: Using data from two cross-sectional studies (conducted in 1998 and 2004), we examined the patterns of smoking among regular male UK Service personnel aged 20-49 years and made comparisons with general population data from England, Scotland and Wales.

Results: In 2004, the prevalence of smoking among military males aged 20-49 years was 30% (n=2276), compared to 33% within the general population. Among current smokers, the mean number of cigarettes smoked per day was 15 for the military and 14 for the general population. The prevalence of smoking has decreased in lower ranks between 1998 and 2004 by 5.1% in 20-24 year olds to 6.3% in 35-49 year olds. These decreases are similar to those seen within those in the routine, manual or intermediate socio-economic group.

Conclusions: Smoking among males in the UK military is associated with similar factors to those in the general population. As these factors are clustered in younger personnel, policies to decrease smoking should be targeted at younger recruits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Men* / education
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / education
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Smoking / trends*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Wales / epidemiology