News, Culture & Society

Marines lead all services in binge drinking, tobacco use and sex partners

A new report surveying thousands of active-duty military revealed that Marines tend to drink more, smoke more and participate in riskier sexual behavior with more partners than members of other branches of the military. 

The study, conducted by the RAND Corporation — a research organization — using nearly 17,000 surveys, indicated that Marines engaged in binge drinking and ‘hazardous’ drinking at nearly twice the level as Air Force airmen.

The study stated that binge drinking constituted having at least four drinks at a time, while ‘hazardous’ drinking is akin to alcoholism. 

A new survey found that Marines were more likely to binge drink, use tobacco and have multiple sex partners in a year than other branches of the armed forces (stock photo)

The Navy landed in second place when it came to imbibing alcohol, with the Coast Guard and Army coming in third and fourth places, respectively. 

Marines were also revealed to be more likely to have had sex with more than one person over the course of a year and also less likely to use condoms during intercourse with new partners. 

And, Marines were said to have been top tobacco users, too, being much more likely to smoke cigarettes and cigars and use e-cigarettes and being nearly twice as likely to use dipping tobacco.  

‘We’re not trying to blame anyone for this, but the Marine Corps does tend to stand out,’ study leader Dr. Sarah Meadows, a senior sociologist at RAND, told the San Diego Union Tribune. 

Researchers warned against using the study results to cast aspersions on any particular military branches and noted that 'each of the services has their own culture'

Researchers warned against using the study results to cast aspersions on any particular military branches and noted that ‘each of the services has their own culture’

‘Each of the services has their own culture,’ she added, cautioning against using the study to cast aspersion on any particular military branch. 

Meadows suggested that the study results could be explained by the fact that Marines tend to be young and male, noting that the survey results were ‘pretty similar’ to those seen with young male college students. 

The information used to inform RAND’s report was collected during the 2015 Health Related Behaviors Survey and involved responses from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

In addition to drinking, smoking, tobacco and sex behavior, the survey also included questions about physical and mental health, eating and sleeping habits, diet and exercise.  

A Marine Corps spokesperson said that the RAND study will be useful for identifying areas where the Corps can strive to better themselves.    

‘If we can improve, it’s something we’ll explore,’ 1st Lt. David Morris, who works in communications at 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at California’s Camp Pendleton told the Union Tribune. 

The military has a history of sponsoring programs to reduce smoking and drinking among service members. 


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