Background Electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) use has grown substantially since its US market introduction in 2007. Although marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, studies have shown they can also be a gateway to their use. The purpose of this investigation is to identify factors associated with different patterns of tobacco use among active duty military personnel.
Methods A secondary analysis was conducted using the 2014 Defense Health Agency Health Related Behaviors survey data. Results are based on 45 986 US military respondents, weighted to 1 251 606. Both univariate and regression analyses were conducted to identify correlates.
Results In 2014, approximately 7.8% of respondents reported using e-cigarettes at least once in the past year. Among e-cigarette users, 49% reported exclusive e-cigarette use. Prevalence of exclusive use is highest among white people (58%), Navy (33%), men (83%) and persons with income ≤$45 000 (65%). Regression comparing exclusive cigarette with exclusive e-cigarette users revealed higher odds of being Air Force (OR=2.19; CI 1.18 to 4.06) or Navy (OR=2.25; CI 1.14 to 4.41) personnel and being male (OR=1.72; CI 1.12 to 2.64), and more likely to not receive smoking cessation messaging from healthcare providers in the last 12 months (OR=2.88; CI 1.80 to 4.62). When comparing exclusive e-cigarette users with poly-tobacco users, e-cigarette users had higher odds of being Hispanic (OR=2.20; CI 1.02 to 4.78), college educated (OR=4.25; CI 1.22 to 14.84) and not receiving tobacco prevention/cessation messaging (OR=4.80; CI 2.79 to 8.27).
Conclusion The results demonstrate that exclusive e-cigarette users in the military have unique characteristics when compared with groups of other/mixed tobacco users. Findings can inform cessation and prevention efforts to improve both the overall health and combat readiness of active duty military personnel.
- public health
- substance misuse
- health policy
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Contributors SG, RD-D, PK and KM-A conceived the study and identified the hypotheses. JT and MMT conducted the analysis. RD-D, DK, LDW, MMT and JT wrote the initial draft of the manuscript. SG, RD-D, DK, LDW, PK, KM-A and KE reviewed and refined the manuscript. KM-A and KE gave final approval for submission.
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.
Ethics approval The 2014 iteration of the survey was approved by the Liberty Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs/DHA Human Subjects in Research Protection Office.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. Data enquiries should be made directly to Dr. Marshall-Aiyelawo (coauthor) at the Defense Health Agency.
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