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Banning smoking at Army Foundation College, Harrogate: a military phase I training establishment’s experience of introducing a smoking ban
  1. Amy Johnstone and
  2. AJ Martin-Bates
  1. Royal Army Medical Corps, Army Foundation College Harrogate, UK
  1. Correspondence to Capt Amy Johnstone, Royal Army Medical Corps, Harrogate HG32SD, UK; amy.johnstone101{at}


In September 2019, Harrogate Army Foundation College (AFC) introduced what is believed to be the British Army’s first smoking ban. AFC, the British Army’s only training college for junior soldiers (JS) aged 16–18 years, had identified the possibility of JS adopting a smoking habit during training and introduced positive steps to mitigate this risk. The smoking ban for JS was part of a phased approach, with a complete ban being implemented in January 2020, which extended to all personnel on camp. A historically strong smoking culture in the military meant introducing a ban had inherent challenges, but the potential benefits from doing so made it worth considering. The introduction of the ban coincided with an intake of around 1070 new JS. Intakes are a busy period for the medical centre, with each JS requiring an Initial Medical Assessment. The added requirement to provide smoking cessation therapy at this time resulted in an increased workload. Medical challenges during this period included staffing numbers, dispensary stock levels for nicotine replacement therapy and disruption to routine clinics. However, experience gained from the September 2019 intake resulted in modifications that allowed the next intake in March 2020 to be optimised. Success when introducing a smoking ban in a military establishment is dependent on early planning and clear communication between the chain of command and the medical centre. As the military moves towards a larger scale smoking ban, lessons from AFC’s experience may help guide other military establishments with the implementation process.

  • public health
  • primary care
  • health policy
  • organisation of health services

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  • Contributors The paper was conceived by AJM-B. AJ drafted and wrote the manuscript. AJM-B made substantial contributions during critical revision of each draft. Both authors approved the final submitted version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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