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Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations
below discuss some organizational factors likely to contribute to tobacco use by active-duty and retired military personnel.
Acceptability of Tobacco Use
As discussed earlier in this report, with the exception of the Air Force, the armed services have tobacco-use rates that are greater than those in the general US population. Rates are even higher for military personnel deployed to war zones, such as Iraq and Afghanistan. A fitness and health promotion program manager in the Marine Corps reported that marines, including commanding officers, believe that they have a right to smoke—that the military should not put unnecessary restrictions on troops who are already making sacrifices (DoD, 2007). Army and Air Force junior enlisted personnel (including current smokers, ex-smokers, and never smokers) and their supervisors agreed that smoking was more common during deployment, partially because of a feeling that antitobacco rules were not enforced.
Interviews with policy leaders from the Tobacco Policy Study indicated various levels of enforcement, from the proper enforcement of no smoking in vehicles to general disregard of designated smoking areas (Haddock, 2008). Junior enlisted personnel in the Army and Air Force indicated that such rules as that prohibiting smoking in military vehicles are routinely ignored without consequences. In a series of focus groups conducted with the same population, Haddock (2008) found that many service members still believe that the military encourages tobacco use during deployment—smokers are allowed to take breaks when nonsmokers are not, inexpensive cigarettes are readily available, and there still exists an underlying historical association between smoking and the military.
Access to and Cost of Tobacco Products on Military Installations
Almost 50% of Army and Marine Corps personnel, 33% of Air Force personnel, and 38.4% of Navy personnel reported that a reason for smoking was availability—there are numerous locations to buy on installations, such as commissaries, exchanges, and package stores (DoD Instruction 1330.09, December 7, 2005). There is an added monetary incentive: DoD Instruction 1330.09 states that “prices of tobacco products sold in military resale outlets in the United States, its territories and possessions, shall be no higher than the most competitive retail price in the local community and no lower than 5 percent below the most competitive commercial prices in the local community.”