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Barriers to Effective Tobacco Control Policy Implementation in the U.S. Military

Principal Investigator: Christopher Haddock

Funding Mechanism: National Institutes of Health - Grant

ID number: 3R01CA109153-07S1

Award Date: 9/1/2012 

Institution: National Development and Research Institutes

Tobacco product use by U.S. military personnel negatively impacts health, combat readiness and healthcare costs. Military personnel have easy access to deeply-discounted tobacco products in military retail outlets and exhibit historically high rates of tobacco use, which has been identified as "part of the military culture." Military personnel of all ranks believe that tobacco use is an effective method for combating the stress associated with military life and that its risks are inconsequential compared to the other dangers they face, and troops strongly believe that their commanders perceive tobacco to be a relatively unimportant threat to readiness and health. This study, which builds upon ongoing research on U.S. military tobacco control policy, will explore the factors that underlie these misperceptions and support tobacco use acceptance in military culture. The aim of this project is to explore military commanders’ perceptions about tobacco products’ impact on military personnel health and combat readiness.  By conducting semi-structured interviews with 60 commanders from the four armed services and the Coast Guard, investigators will determine (i) what military commanders believe about the harms and/or benefits of using various types of tobacco products (smokeless, cigars, cigarettes, and others) and their impact on the military mission; (ii) how tobacco product use figures into daily military culture and practices; (iii) how commanders construct and deploy arguments supporting the use of different tobacco products; (iv) where commanders obtain information that influences their perceptions of tobacco product risks; (v) what information about tobacco is presented to commanders in Professional Military Education (PME) courses; and (vi) what tobacco-related information commanders believe should be presented in PME.

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