Smoking causes lost recruits during military training: Armed forces join the No-Smoking Day effort

Tuesday 27 February 2001


Embargo: 00:01 Tues 27 February 2001:


US military losesover 4,000 recruits to smoking ­ but British armed forces dealing with smokingimpact on operational effectiveness


Smokersare more likely to drop out of military training and therefore increase theoverall annual cost of training military personnel – by US$130 million per yearfor US military.   A new study [1]published today was conducted on American airmen and showed that the drop outrate was substantially higher among smokers – 11.8% of non-smokers compared to19.4% of smokers dropped out in the first year of training.  Of 167,579 recruits, the excessdrop-outs associated with smoking were 4,556 ­ 2.7% of the total recruits andone in five of the 22,654 drop-outs.


Butthe British armed forces are tackling smoking through No Smoking Day (14March).


CliveBates, Director of ASH said:


“Men and women undergoing military training facegreat physical and mental challenges and anything that compromises theirperformance is going to show up in the discharge rates.  Putting effort into helping soldiers quitsmoking is going to pay off financially and reduce the pressures onrecruitment.”


“When they are training for demanding combat roles,smokers are at a significant physical disadvantage and almost twice as likelyto drop out.


“At a time when recruitment to the British armedforces is low and attrition rates are high, they can’t afford to ignore anyfactor, including smoking, that leads to the loss of valuable and expensiverecruits.


… smoking impacton combat effectiveness recognised

Britishmilitary commanders increasingly recognise the impact that smoking has oncombat and operational effectiveness. Smoking has impacts on physical stamina, the logistics and cost ofsupplying tobacco to soldiers, the visibility of cigarette flame in infra-rednight vision equipment, fire and explosion risks, the stress impact of nicotinewithdrawal when smoking is not possible, and so on.    Clive Bates of ASH said:


“The romantic image of the conscript Tommy gratefulfor his British Army cigarette ration is long gone.  In today’s professional armed forces lives depend on having eventhe finest edge in combat and operational effectiveness, and smoking is increasinglyrecognised as an unnecessary and unacceptable disadvantage.”


TheBritish Army and Navy are heavily involved in this year’s <ahref=”http:”” “=””>No Smoking Day (14 March).  Special materials have been developedstressing military aspects of smoking and these have been widely circulatedwith instructions for their use. No Smoking Day is organised by a charitycalled ‘No Smoking Day’ ­ see below.


[1]Klesges R. etal The association of smoking and cost of military training.

TobaccoControl 2001; 10:43-47 


Contacts: <spanstyle=’font-family:arial;’>ASH Clive Bates: 020 77395902 (office) 077 6879 1237 (mobile) (ISDN available)

NoSmoking Day, Doreen MacIntyre 020 7916 1653 <ahref=””>