East African Journal of Public Health

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Prevalence of cigarette smoking and knowledge of its health implications among Nigerian soldiers

NAA Hussain, M Akande, ETO Adebayo


Objective. Several studies have reported a negative relationship between smoking and military performance. This study was conducted to determine the prevalence of cigarette smoking and knowledge of its health implications among Nigerian Army personnel.
Methods. A descriptive cross-sectional survey of 853 soldiers using a self-administered pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire.
Results. One hundred and seventy three respondents (20.3%) out of 853 respondents smoked. About three-quarter of them started smoking in the army. Derivation of pleasure and relaxation (24.9%), allaying anxiety (21.4%) and peer influence (34.1%) were the most frequent reasons for smoking. Skin disorder (75.9%), lung cancer (68.6%), addiction (65.2%) and dental problems (57.5%) were the most commonly reported effects of smoking. Only half (50.3%) of the total respondents believed that these effects of smoking could limit military fitness and performance. Forty five (26.1%) of the smokers had attempted to quit smoking. Majority (92.7%) of all the respondents have never had anti-smoking sensitization while in the army.
Conclusion The prevalence of smoking among the respondents was high. In spite of their knowledge its health hazards, the respondents could not relate this to military fitness and combat effectiveness. Also, their knowledge of the adverse effects did not translate to their smoking behaviour. There is need for continuous anti-smoking programmes to be established by the medical authority in the Nigerian Army to sensitize personnel on the dangers of cigarette smoking.
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