Smoking & the Risk of Injury in Military Personnel

Research Paper Title

The Combined Effect of Cigarette Smoking and Fitness on Injury Risk in Men and Women.

Background

Prior studies have identified cigarette smoking and low fitness as independent risk factors for injury; however, no studies have evaluated the combined effect of cigarette smoking and fitness on injury risk. The objective of this research was to evaluate the combined effect of cigarette smoking and fitness on injury risk in men and women.

Methods

This is a secondary analysis of data collected from U.S. Army recruits (n=2000) during basic combat training (BCT) within the United States in 2007. Physical training and fitness, cigarette smoking and prior injury were obtained from questionnaires, while demographic and injury data were obtained from medical and BCT unit records. Chi-squared tests were used to assess differences in injury risk by fitness level and cigarette smoking. Relative Risk (RR) were calculated with 95% confidence intervals.

Results

The primary findings showed that smokers experienced 20-30% higher risk of injury than non-smokers. In addition, higher aerobic and muscular fitness were generally not protective against injury between least fit and more fit smokers. However, higher fitness was protective against injury between least and more fit non-smokers, with least fit non-smokers being 30-50% more likely to experience an injury than fit non-smokers.

Conclusions

This study revealed that higher aerobic and muscular fitness was not protective against injury among smokers; however, it was protective against injury among non-smokers. Further implementation of smoking cessation programs may be beneficial for military and civilian personnel who are required to be physically fit in order to carry out their job responsibilities.

Implications/Highlights

Male and female smokers experienced significantly higher risk of injury than non-smokers. While higher fitness is protective against injury in non-smokers, the protective effect of fitness is lost among smokers. In an attempt to reduce injury risk among military and emergency personnel, smoking cessation programmes should be further implemented among both more fit and less fit smokers.

Reference

Brooks, R.D., Grier, T., Dada, E.O. & Jones, B.H. (2018) The Combined Effect of Cigarette Smoking and Fitness on Injury Risk in Men and Women. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty155. [Epub ahead of print]

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