FIGURE 7-6 Benefits and costs from reducing heavy smoker percentage of recruits.

Attrition savings are greater than the increase in recruiting costs at all enlistment standards considered. Net benefits are maximized by excluding all heavy smokers. According to this analysis, almost $5 million could be saved if all heavy smokers were disqualified for service in the Navy.5 By screening out heavy smokers, the expected first-year aggregate attrition rate for Navy recruits would decline from 19.7 to 18.1 percent, a decline of 1.6 percent.

We now consider whether costs are further reduced if an enlistment standard restricting light smokers is imposed. We assume, in this analysis, that heavy smokers have already been made ineligible for enlistment. We also assume that the number of nonsmoking and light-smoking recruits increased proportionately to compensate for the loss of the heavy smokers. Hence, nonsmokers account for about 59 percent of recruits and light smokers constitute 41 percent.

The difference in first-year attrition rates between nonsmokers and light smokers is about 6.3 percent, much more modest than the difference in first-year attrition between heavy smokers and nonsmokers of about 17.6 percent. Moreover, light smokers constitute about 41 percent of recruits.6 However, because light smokers are a large proportion of re-


We tested the sensitivity of this result to alternative estimates of the “responsiveness” of recruiting to changes in the eligible population. A standard that disqualified heavy smokers would appear to reduce costs both in the case of “high” responsiveness of recruiting to population (an elasticity of recruits with respect to population of 0.5) and “low” responsiveness, an elasticity of .25.


This is the hypothetical share after heavy smokers have been disqualified for enlistment, reflecting the assumption of a proportionate increase in the share of nonsmokers and light smokers.

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