TABLE 7-5 Navy 12-Month Attrition Rates by Smoking Status and Education

Education

Smoking Status

% Attrition

Number in Sample

HSDG

Nonsmoker

17

3,482

HSDG

Light

22

2,007

GED or NG

Nonsmoker

24

347

ALT

Nonsmoker

26

464

ALT

Light

32

446

HSDG

Heavy

33

912

GED or NG

Light

33

489

ALT

Heavy

40

248

GED or NG

Heavy

44

338

Total sample

 

24

8,733

HSDG = high school diploma graduate; ALT = alternate credential, such as home schooling, adult education, etc.; GED or NG = General Educational Development or not a high school graduate.

eral Educational Development (GED) certificates or alternate credentials who were nonsmokers had attrition rates somewhat lower than high school graduates who smoked (24 to 26 versus 33 percent). In addition, and perhaps more important, those recruits with GEDs or alternate certificates who were heavy smokers had very high attrition rates (40 to 44 percent), even higher than heavy smokers who were high school graduates.

Given the fact that smoking behavior can magnify the relationship between education and attrition, the question becomes how this information can be used to the military’s advantage in screening applicants for enlistment. Several options are worth considering, all without seeking to eliminate all smokers or reduce the pool of prospective recruits. First, assuming that there are unobtrusive ways of determining nonsmoking status, military recruiters could target nonsmoking graduates with high school diplomas because they have the lowest level of attrition among all groups. Second, given that an appreciable number of applicants with GEDs and alternative certificates will be accepted, the Services could target or give priority to the nonsmokers in this group, who have attrition rates only a few points higher than graduates with high school diplomas. Third, if it became feasible to assess quantity of smoking for applicants with GEDs and alternate certificates, then those who were heavy smokers



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