Vaping in the American Armed Forces

Vaping has taken over traditional smoking within the military.

The rate of smoking among military service members has dropped dramatically in the last few years and appears to be at lower levels than the general population. This is according to results from a recent survey of troops regarding health related behaviours and habits.

Across all military service branches, 7.4% of service members smoked cigarettes daily in 2015, compared with 12.9% of adults in the general population, according to the results of the most recent Defense Department Health-Related Behaviors Survey of Active-Duty Service Members.

And the number of troops who are occasional smokers, those that smoked in the last month, dropped by nearly 50% since 2011 — down from 24% to 14%.

However, when you look at electronic cigarettes 11.1% of service members said they were daily e-cigarette users, and 12.4% had vaped within the last month. In the junior enlisted ranks, nearly 20% are current e-cigarette smokers. The results would show that traditional smokers within the military have migrated to vaping.

The Marine Corps has the highest percentage of those vaping among the service branches, at 16.1%, followed closely by the Navy with 14.5%. The rates within the Navy are even despite the high restrictions on e-cigarettes imposed by the Navy. About 11.2% of Army soldiers said they regularly use e-cigs, while 10.5% of airmen vape, followed by Coast Guardsmen at 9.3%.

The latest Pentagon survey shows how different troops are consuming nicotine, albeit these results is from data from 2015. However, a new survey is currently underway and set to conclude on February 28th that would highlight continued changes of these health related behaviours among the Armed Forces.

The rise of e-cigarette use among troops occurred suddenly and correlates with the rise of e-cigs among the general population.

Sales of traditional tobacco on military bases has fallen. In the Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, sales decreased by nearly half from 2011 to 2017, from 68 million units to 37 million units. Marine Corps exchanges showed a similar decline, down from 5.5 million in 2011 to 2.5 million in 2017. Navy exchange stores are selling about one-third less tobacco products, down from 15 million in 2011 to 10 million in 2017.

The trends for e-cigarette sales vary among the military exchanges, which started selling the products in 2012 or 2013. Like the vaping trend cited in the 2015 health survey, sales of e-cigarettes at exchanges on Army, Air Force and Navy bases increased steadily through 2015 or 2016. But the sales have decreased since then.

The new health survey among the troops that will conclude shortly will shed light if e-cigarette use among soldiers was a temporary spike of if the upward trend has continued.

We here at Cali Steam support our Armed Forces around the globe and thank them for their service. We also support safe and effective methods for those addicted to nicotine to obtain our products and others safely.