Systematic review of health and behavioural outcomes of smoking cessation interventions in prisons

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Abstract

Objective

We conducted a systematic review to examine the impact of smoking cessation interventions, including smoking bans, on prisoners and prison staff.

Data sources

We systematically searched health and criminal justice databases for relevant studies. Search strings were used to combine terms related to smoking cessation interventions with terms related to incarceration. We used forward and backward snowballing to capture additional studies.

Study selection

Studies were included if: they were published between 1 January 1994 and 23 May 2016; the population was incarcerated adults and/or prison staff; they had a quantitative component; they were published in English; and they reported outcomes of a smoking cessation programme/ban with regard to reported change in smoking behaviour and/or behavioural outcomes.

Data extraction

Studies were reviewed for methodological rigour using the Effective Public Health Practice Project's Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Data were independently reviewed for methodological quality by 1 author and a research assistant.

Data synthesis

Cessation programmes, including free nicotine replacement therapy and/or behavioural counselling can significantly increase the likelihood of quitting in prison and increase abstinence postrelease. Indoor bans have little impact on prisoner smoking behaviour. Prisoners who experience a complete smoking ban typically resume smoking shortly after release from prison. Bans may result in adverse behavioural outcomes, but these are generally minimal and short-lived.

Conclusions

While there is limited evidence to inform tobacco control policies in custodial settings, outcomes of this review suggest that cessation programmes/bans can be an effective mechanism to interrupt prisoner smoking behaviour when properly enforced.

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