Smoking in the Military
Recent reports on smoking in the military seem to indicate that while numerous cessation programs have been put into effect to curb the use of cigarette smoking, the number of individuals in the military choosing to smoke dramatically outpaces the number of individuals in the civilian population that smoke. With the realization that smoking rates in the military currently far outpace those in the civilian population, there is an impetus to discern if this has always been the case or if recent increase in military smoking rates is a relatively new phenomenon. To this end, this investigation considers smoking rates in the military both now and in the past. By considering smoking rates across the broad spectrum of society it may be possible to determine if the underlying causes of military smoking are the same or if recent changes have occurred making the practice more prevalent.
Drawing on current research by an author (1997), it becomes clear that the current trends in military smoking that have been noted in the literature have been common since at least the Vietnam War. According to an author surveys of veterans being treated at VA hospitals demonstrate that veterans from the Vietnam War were more likely to smoke than their non-Veteran counterparts of the same age.An author also notes that these same trends were observable in women Veterans as well. What this effectively suggests is that smoking rates in the military have consistently outpaced those of the civilian population for a considerable number of decades.
Looking even further back than the Vietnam War Schnurr, authors (2000) note that in their investigation of Korean and World War II veterans, smoking and alcohol consumption rates of those involved in these conflicts are currently higher than those of the civilian population of the same age. Authors attribute this increased smoking rate to the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that for many veterans began before the end of enlistment. Essentially the authors argue that smoking is only one of a series of behaviors that veterans and enlisted soldiers engage in to reduce the stress and tension promulgated by the realities of war. In short, the use of cigarettes is higher in military personnel because of the extreme stress that these individuals are placed under.