Background: This article investigates cigarettes smoking among active military personnel, veterans, and comparable civilian populations.
Methods: It is based on secondary analysis of archival data from the General Social Surveys and the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth.
Results: Findings were consistent with past research, indicating higher smoking rates for current active military personnel than for civilians. Among men and women who were in their thirties during the early 1980s, findings suggest that military personnel and civilians alike exhibited the same tendency toward cigarette use and initiated smoking at approximately the same ages. General Social Surveys and National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth data suggest that military smoking did not appear to be a situational behavior which occurred only during a recruit's tour of duty; results also suggest that previous military experience was associated with higher lifelong patterns of cigarette consumption, compared to those who had never been in the armed services.
Conclusions: This evidence suggests that the military--as the nation's largest employer, with an immense influence upon civilian relations--exerts a force of considerable magnitude thwarting national goals to achieve reduced cigarette consumption.