Tobacco Product Use Among Military Veterans—United States, 2010-2015

January 12, 2018 / Vol. 67 / 01



MMWR Introduction

In 2015, an estimated 18.8 million U.S. adults were military veterans. To monitor tobacco product use among veterans, CDC analyzed self-reported current (past 30-day) use of five tobacco product types (cigarettes, cigars/cigarillos/little cigars, roll-your-own tobacco, pipes, and smokeless tobacco) from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Overall, 29.2% of veterans reported current use of any of the assessed tobacco products. Cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product (21.6%), followed by cigars/cigarillos/little cigars (6.2%), smokeless tobacco (5.2%), roll-your-own tobacco (3.0%), and pipes (1.5%); 7.0% of veterans currently used ≥2 tobacco products.

The prevalence of current any tobacco product use was significantly higher among veterans than nonveterans in all age and sex strata, except males aged ≥50 years. Implementation of evidence-based tobacco control interventions among military and veteran populations can help reduce prevalence by preventing initiation and relapse, and encouraging quitting. Strategies could include promoting cessation to current military personnel and veterans, implementing tobacco-free policies at military installations and Veterans Affairs medical centers and clinics, increasing the age requirement to buy tobacco on military bases to 21 years, and eliminating tobacco product discounts through military retailers.

MMWR Highlights

Prevalence estimates of past 30-day use of any tobacco product among military veterans aged ≥18 years, overall and by sociodemographic characteristics — National Survey on Drug Use and Health, United States, 2010-2015

  • Overall, 29.2% of military veterans used any tobacco product; by sex, 29.1% of males and 29.7% of females used any tobacco product.
  • By age group, 56.8% of those 18-25 years, 52.7% of those 26-34 years, 43.2% of those 35-49 years, and 23.8 of those 50 years and older used any tobacco product.
  • By race/ethnicity, 28.3% of white veterans, 32.1% of black veterans, 34.0% of Hispanic veterans, and 33.6% of other veterans used any tobacco product,
  • By education level, 37.9% of those with less than a high school education, 33.9% of those with a high school education, 33.6% of those with some college education, and 17.2% of those with an undergraduate degree or higher used any tobacco product.
  • By annual family income level, 44.3% of those making less than $20,000, 21.5% of those making $20,000-$49,999, 25.8% of those making $50,000-$74,999, and 23.9% of those making $75,000 or more used any tobacco product.
  • By poverty status, 53.7% of those living at or below the Federal Poverty Threshold, 38.7% of those living at up to twice the Federal Poverty Threshold, and 25.2% of those living at more than twice the Federal Poverty Threshold used any tobacco product.
  • By marital status, 24.3% of those who are married, 37.4% of those who are widowed/divorced/separated, and 43.4% of those who are never married used any tobacco product.
  • By serious psychological distress status, 28.5% of those who do not suffer from serious psychological distress and 48.2% of those who suffer from serious psychological distress use any tobacco product.
  • By health insurance coverage, 60.1% of those who are uninsured and 27.3% of those who are insured used any tobacco product.


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