Tobacco use among military personnel is associated with significant health care expenditures, lost productivity, and compromised combat readiness. The prevalence remains high among military personnel and may increase in high-risk situations such as deployment. We assessed the prevalence of tobacco use across the deployment cycle, changes in tobacco use (nonuse, continued use, initiation/harm escalation, cessation/harm reduction) during deployment, and the impact of deployment history on tobacco use. Cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco (ST) use, and dual tobacco use were evaluated among 278 U.S. Air Force Security Forces personnel undertaking a 1-year deployment to a high-threat combat environment. Multinomial regression was used to examine prediction of tobacco use patterns both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. More than half (53%-63%) of all Security Forces used tobacco at all stages of the deployment cycle. Individual tobacco use trajectories showed significant differences in prevalence rates of initiation/harm escalation and cessation/harm reduction when comparing the transition from predeployment to the deployed environment versus returning to postdeployment status. Airmen who had deployed more than once previously had a higher likelihood of using ST use at predeployment and engaging in dual tobacco use during deployment. Findings suggest the potential benefit of targeted or universal interventions at each stage of the deployment cycle to reduce the onset, maintenance, or escalation of tobacco use behaviors in the U.S. military.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health