Smoking Among U.S. Service Members Following Transition From Military to Veteran Status

Chiping Nieh*, Teresa M. Powell, Gary D. Gackstetter, Tomoko I. Hooper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Smoking rates among U.S. Service members and veterans have been consistently higher than in civilian populations. While much has been published about tobacco use in both military and veteran populations, smoking patterns during transition from military to veteran status remains unclear. We studied military members participating in the Millennium Cohort Study, who separated from their respective Services between baseline and first follow-up survey (N = 5,510). Two generalized estimating equation models were used to examine any association between smoking status and time to military separation (days between baseline survey and separation), as well as smoking during transition and reason for separation. Reason for separation was categorized into three groups: (1) not meeting military standards or judicial-related reasons, (2) drugs-/alcohol-related misconduct, and (3) other types of separation including retirement, pregnancy, and so on. Statistical models accounted for baseline smoking and demographic/military/health behavioral/mental health characteristics. Overall, we observed a decline in smoking prevalence over time (19.5%, 16.7%, 15.2%, and 12.6%, respectively). However, we found a 22% increase in the odds of smoking among those who stayed in the military between 3 months and 1 year, compared to those who stayed 2+ years. Additionally, participants separating for standard/judicial reason(s) showed 69% increased smoking compared to those with other reasons for separation. The time period immediately prior to Service separation and certain types of separation were associated with increased odds of smoking. Thus, smoking cessation interventions should target Service members during this transition period to potentially reduce smoking prevalence after separation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165S-175S
JournalHealth Promotion Practice
Issue number1_suppl
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • epidemiology
  • health disparities
  • health research
  • tobacco prevention and control


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