Smoke-free prison policies

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The paper by Woodall and Tattersfield explores prisoner and staff views of the current smoking policy in English and Welsh prisons (a partial ban permitting smoking in prison cells) and gauges perceptions of the implications of the forthcoming policy change which will see a total smoking ban within all parts of the institution.

Five focus groups were carried out in a one medium security male prison in England – 3 with prisoners (smokers and non-smokers) and two with staff. Findings suggested that smoking is embedded in the fabric of prison life and serves several functions, including alleviating anxiety in prisoners. The current policy was seen as a fair one which supported smoking and non-smoking prisoners.

There were concerns that a total smoking ban would have adverse outcomes on prisoners and staff, including deleterious effects on mental health and the potential for violence. The paper concluded by suggesting the incoming policy is laudable but without careful implementation there may be adverse health and organisational outcomes. 

James Woodall and Allison Tattersfield (2017) Perspectives on implementing smoke-free prison policies in England and Wales Health Promotion International   DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dax031

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