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Tobacco and nicotine use among active component U.S. military service members: a comparison of 2018 estimates from the Health Related Behaviors Survey and the Periodic Health Assessment.

MSMR 2024 March 21
This study compared estimates of the prevalence of and risk factors for tobacco and nicotine use obtained from the 2018 Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) and Periodic Health Assessment (PHA) survey. The HRBS and the PHA are important Department of Defense sources of data on health behavior collected from U.S. military service members. While their collection methods differ, some survey questions are similar, which provides an opportunity to compare survey estimates. Active duty service members consistently reported a much lower prevalence of all types of tobacco and nicotine use on the PHA compared to the HRBS: cigarettes (11.1% vs. 18.4%), e-cigarettes (7.3% vs. 16.2%), chewing tobacco (9.7% vs. 13.4%), any tobacco or nicotine use (25.3% vs. 37.8%), and use of 2 or more tobacco or nicotine products (5.8% vs. 17.4%). Associations between tobacco and nicotine use as well as demographic and other behavioral variables were fairly similar, including age, sex, education, race and ethnicity, rank, and alcohol use. The associations with service branch, body mass index, and sleep were inconsistent. This results of this study suggest that the PHA can provide timely information on trends in military tobacco and nicotine use over time, but much higher estimates from the confidential, voluntary HRBS reported in this study suggest that the command-directed PHA may substantially underestimate the prevalence of all types of tobacco and nicotine use.

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