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Recent Veterans Enrolled in College More Likely to Smoke, Drink than Non-Veteran Peers

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Recent veterans enrolled in college are more likely than their peers, who are not veterans, to use tobacco products, binge drink and engage in other risky behaviors such as getting involved in physical fights, a new study suggests.

The study of 8,651 Minnesota college students—815 of whom were veterans—found those veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were more likely to be current smokers or recent users of smokeless tobacco, compared with non-veteran students, Newswise reports. These veterans were also more likely to binge drink (have more than five drinks at one time) during the previous two weeks, and to have been in a car driven by someone who was intoxicated in the past year.

Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were less likely to use marijuana than other college students, the study found. Among students who smoked cigarettes, more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans said they planned to quit before graduation, compared with non-veterans.

The study authors say post-traumatic stress syndrome and other mental health issues may contribute to the risky behaviors seen in the study.

The findings appear in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

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