Influence of gender and peer tobacco use on tobacco use intentions after a period of involuntary tobacco abstinence among U.S. Air Force trainees

Christi Ann Patten, Xin Qun Wang, Jon Owen Ebbert, Melissa A. Little, Gerald W. Talcott, Ann S. Hryshko-Mullen, Robert C. Klesges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined gender, prior tobacco use, and social-environmental factors as predictors of intentions to use tobacco (cigarette smoking and/or smokeless tobacco [ST]) after a forced period of abstinence among U.S. Air Force (USAF) trainees. Trainees completed 8½ weeks of basic military training (BMT), then 4 weeks of Technical Training; both required abstinence from tobacco. A cross-sectional survey of 13,514 USAF trainees (73% male, 90% age 18–24, 43% prior tobacco use) was conducted at the beginning of the 4-week Technical Training period. Overall, 17% of the sample reported future tobacco use intentions. Intentions for future tobacco use were less prevalent among non-tobacco users before BMT (1%) than those reporting any tobacco use (37%). From a multivariable logistic regression model predicting intentions to use any tobacco after Technical Training, significant two-way interaction effects were detected between gender, and tobacco use prior to BMT (p = 0.0001), and number of close friends who smoked cigarettes (p = 0.018), and number of close friends who used ST (p = 0.029). Among non-tobacco users before BMT, females were more than twice as likely as males to report tobacco intentions (Odds Ratio = 2.2, Bonferroni corrected 95% CI: 1.14.4, p = 0.011); no gender differences were detected among tobacco users. For females, but not males, having more friends who smoked was associated with greater likelihood of tobacco intentions (Bonferroni corrected p ≤ 0.05). In contrast, for males, but not females, having more friends using ST was associated with greater likelihood of tobacco intentions (Bonferroni corrected p < 0.05). In this sample of USAF trainees, the study provides novel findings on how males and females are influenced differently by their prior tobacco use and peers’ tobacco use in predicting tobacco intentions. Prevention efforts focused on uptake and resumption of tobacco use, along with gender-specific strategies, may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019



  • Gender
  • Intentions
  • Military
  • Social-environment
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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