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Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations
On military installations, there are numerous opportunities for exposure to both positive and negative tobacco-use messages (Haddock et al., 2008) and for changing the social norm for tobacco. Given the unique environment of military installations, media campaigns—including advertising and public education—can be used to inform personnel about products and issues with relative ease and through a variety of media. On many installations, active-duty personnel work and live in the same area; the installations are accessible to their dependents, retired military and their families, and National Guard and reserve members who shop at the commissaries and exchanges. Civilian employees are also exposed to mass-media messages on an installation. There are several outlets where protobacco and antitobacco messages can be conveyed to military and civilian audiences on a military installation, such as the commissaries and exchanges where tobacco and tobacco-cessation products are sold, a variety of military newspapers, posters in and on buildings around the installation, the military television channel and radio station on the installation, military Web sites, and direct mail. Finally, as noted above, leadership is vital for setting a tobacco-free example and for encouraging military and civilian personnel to follow this example by making them aware of tobacco-cessation services. First, however, the leaders themselves must be educated about the services.
Advertising and Promotions
Goal B.3 of the 1999 DoD Tobacco Use Prevention Strategic Plan is to promote the benefits of being a nonsmoker and to provide tobacco counteradvertising by using public-affairs and other military media. To achieve this goal, the plan requires an assessment of the armed services’ current policies on commercial solicitation to buy tobacco products (such as advertising, promotions, and donations) and compliance with these policies. Haddock et al. (2008) found that among 793 issues of 16 military installation newspapers over a year, there were 308 antialcohol advertisements and 82 antitobacco advertisements. The Navy had the greatest proportion of protobacco advertisements (16%); the Air Force had none. Tobacco control received less coverage than seatbelt use, alcohol, and exercise and fitness, particularly in newspapers serving Marine Corps installations (Haddock et al., 2005).
In a year-long analysis of cigarette and smokeless-tobacco advertising in the 2005 issues of Military Times newspapers for each armed service—which are widely read by service members as a major source of news and information—no advertisements for cigarettes or other forms of smoked tobacco (such as cigars) were found.