The association between veteran status and cigarette-smoking behaviors

Am J Prev Med. Jul-Aug 1995;11(4):245-50.


Although the prevalence of smoking has decreased since 1980 among active duty military personnel, it remains higher than among the adult civilian population; among military veterans, the prevalence of smoking has not been well described. The objectives of this study were to describe patterns of cigarette smoking behaviors among United States veterans and nonveterans and to examine the association between military veteran status and cigarette smoking. We analyzed data from a cross-sectional survey from a national probability sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized adult population (National Health Interview Survey supplements). We estimated the prevalence of ever, current, and former smoking, as well as crude and adjusted odds ratios (AORs) of each outcome measure among veterans and nonveterans, by gender. The prevalence of ever smoking was 74.2% (+/- 0.7%) among veterans and 48.4% (+/- 0.5%) among nonveterans; current smoking prevalence was 33.9% (+/- 1.0%) among veterans and 27.7% (+/- 0.5%) among nonveterans. Among those who had not initiated smoking before the age of 18 years, veterans were more likely than nonveterans to report ever smoking (AOR = 1.8 for men and 1.9 for women) and current smoking (AOR = 1.9 for both men and women). After statistical adjustment, no difference was seen in cessation behavior. We concluded that the prevalence of ever and current smoking was higher among U.S. military veterans. The association was the strongest among veterans who had not initiated smoking before the age of 18 years. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that military service is a risk factor for cigarette smoking, and they support the military's current prevention and cessation efforts.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*