Cigarette smoking and upper respiratory infection among recruits in basic combat training

Ann Intern Med. 1988 Aug 1;109(3):198-202. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-109-3-198.


Study objective: To determine the relation between cigarette smoking and upper respiratory infection or viral syndrome.

Design: A prospective cohort study of soldiers during 13 weeks of basic combat training. Each soldier received a smoking questionnaire before the beginning and at the conclusion of basic combat training. The incidence of respiratory illness among the recruits was evaluated.

Setting: Fort Benning, Georgia.

Participants: 1230 soldiers met the criteria for inclusion and completed the study.

Interventions: None.

Measurements and main results: According to the definition of smoking status in the initial questionnaire, smokers had a relative risk for upper respiratory infection of 1.46 (95% CI, 1.1 to 1.8). This effect was not substantially altered by different definitions of smoking status.

Conclusions: Young military recruits who smoked during basic combat training had more upper respiratory infections than nonsmokers. Cigarette smoking can substantially increase the risk for upper respiratory infection in young men.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Research Design
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires