The impact of local smoking culture on the smoking behavior of U.S. soldiers
Stoudemire, Brandy L.
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Military members seemingly have a greater propensity for smoking than civilians. This observation has motivated many researchers to explore the military’s historic relationship with tobacco and to examine the ways in which military culture promotes tobacco usage. The U.S. Army offers a unique opportunity to conduct natural experiments that measure cultural effects on smoking behavior because its soldiers are randomly assigned to their duty locations. My research exploits the variation in smoking behavior throughout the United States by using state level smoking prevalence rates as a proxy measure for local smoking culture. I employ fixed effects models to compare the self-reported smoking behavior of individual U.S. Army soldiers to the smoking culture of their assigned state to address two primary questions: 1) Is there significant evidence that a soldier’s smoking behavior changes when he or she moves to a state with a different smoking culture? And 2) Is the same state level variation in smoking prevalence observed in the general population also observed in the Army population? My research provides initial evidence that local smoking culture influences soldiers’ decisions about smoking, and I recommend ways the U.S. Department of Defense can leverage cultural effects to reduce smoking prevalence in the military.
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