Objective: To identify effect of military deployment in operational area on trend of smoking cigarettes among troops.
Study Design: Descriptive cross-sectional study.
Place and Duration of study: The study was carried out in an Army Brigade deployed in Operation Al-Mizan, Swat, from Jan to March 2014.
Material and Methods: Whole troops of an army brigade deployed in operation Al-Mizan, Swat were the part of present study. Total strength of brigade comprised of 1850 troops. Out of these 1850, officers constituted 53 (2.86%) and rest 1797 (97.14%) were Junior Commissioned officers (JCOs), noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and soldiers. All ranks other than officers were collectively termed as soldiers. All the individuals were given structured questionnaire to fill. The information was gathered on variables like age, rank, unit, education, duration of deployment in operational area, habit of smoking, intensity of smoking (number of cigarettes smoked daily) and change in the habit and intensity of smoking after being deployed in the operational area. Information was also gathered from the individuals about the reasons for change in the habit (starting or stopping smoking) and intensity of smoking after deployment in operational area. Forty nine individuals with less than 6 months duration in operational area were excluded. All the other officers and soldiers (1801) having served more than 6 months in the operational area were included in the study.
Results: There were total 1801 individuals included in the study. Officers constituted 52 (2.88%) of the total and rest 1749 (97.12%) were soldiers. The mean age of officers was 26.34 ± 4.6 years and mean age of soldiers was 27.92 ± 4.5 years. The overall frequency of smoking in officers and soldiers in the operational area came out to be 29.6%, however the overall frequency of smoking in these individuals before coming to operational area was 26.8%. There were 3 officers and 47 soldiers who started smoking in the operational area. There was an increased consumption of cigarettes among troops (p < 0.001). The increased frequency of consumption of cigarettes in operational area was because of stress/increased combat activities, boredom, lack of recreational activities and monotony.
Conclusion: It is concluded from the present study that operational activities increase the tendency of smoking in some troops and cause increased consumption of cigarettes by others mainly because of stress and peer pressure, which over the period of time can affect health, medical fitness and operational readiness of military personnel.
Peer pressure, Operational area, Stress, Smoking, Troops.