Objectives: Wide-ranging scholarship demonstrates war’s impacts on US veterans’ health. We ask whether, among Vietnamese men of a certain age, wartime experiences contributed to initiating smoking, and thus shaped one behavioral pathway linking war exposure and older adult health. Methods: We analyze the Vietnam Health and Aging Pilot Study (VHAPS), a survey of adults ages 55 and older (N = 405) conducted in one commune of northern Vietnam. We implement Cox discrete-time proportional hazards models to discern the effects of military service upon the initiation of smoking. Results: Military service results in a heightened risk of initiating smoking within this cohort (HR 2.13, [CI 1.36, 3.35]). Smoking initiation is also significantly gendered and age graded. Socioeconomic position and social capital variables in the models are statistically insignificant. Conclusions: This study finds that, among older northern Vietnamese men whose early adulthood coincided with mass mobilization in the Vietnam War, involvement in formal military service significantly increased the risk of initiating smoking. Military-induced smoking emerges where tobacco products were not provided by the military institution, but where social availability of tobacco was widespread.
- Aging and health
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health(social science)