Tobacco Use: A Powerful Predictor of First-Term Attrition
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Flyer, Eli S.
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In early 2001, a biographical questionnaire, the Assessment for Security Positions and Enlistment (ASPEN), was administered to 8,733 Navy recruits before they started boot camp. ASPEN included a wide range of questions to gather behavioral information on recruits. Three of the questions asked recruits about their history of cigarette smoking. Following the path of previous research, the authors sought to determine if pre-service smoking by new Navy recruits was related to their likelihood of first-term attrition. First, the authors found that recruits who smoked were considerably more likely than non-smokers to have had behavioral problems before enlisting. After enlisting, the first-term attrition rates for both light smokers (41 percent) and heavy smokers (52 percent) were substantially higher than that of non-smokers (29 percent). This relationship between smoking and first-term attrition was consistent when examined by gender, education, race/ethnicity, enlistment test categories, and factors defining a “quality recruit.” For example, the attrition rate for “high-quality” recruits was highest among heavy smokers (44 percent), followed by light smokers 34 percent), and non-smokers (25 percent). The authors conclude with a brief note on future directions for research and policy.
A National Academies working paper
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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