Smoking ban in prisons hailed a success by health experts
Eight months after all Scottish prisons became smoke-free, NHSGGC, which supports HMP Barlinnie, HMP Greenock and HMP Low Moss, declared the move a public health success.
In the run-up to the new legislation on 30 November 2018, the Scottish Prisons Service and NHSGGC worked together to ensure widespread engagement and preparation with people in prison, the removal of all tobacco and smoking related items and increased provision of smoking cessation support.
The smokefree legislation was introduced following concerns for the welfare of both those in custody and those who work in prisons.
NHSGGC’s Director of Public Health Linda de Caestecker said: “Eight months on we can look back and hail this as a major public health success. This was one of the best examples of partnership working in Public Health with NHSGGC, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Prisons Service working well together with very effective communication between three agencies.
Before the legislation was introduced, an estimated 68% of prisoners smoked – compared with around 18% of the general public. Smoking still kills around one in five people in Scotland and reducing smoking prevalence remains a public health priority.
Helping prisoners who smoked prepare was crucial with the NHS Quit Your Way prisons team providing increased levels of stop smoking support for prisoners who wanted to stop smoking before the introduction of the ban. Prisoners also had the option of a rechargeable e-cigarette to help them adapt to a smoke-free environment.
Dr Linda de Caestecker added: “Providing a smoke free prison environment for people to live, work and visit will undoubtedly improve health and change smoking behaviour - not only in prison but also as people return to the community.
“Our staff worked extremely well with SPS colleagues, to make sure the change was as smooth as possible for all concerned. A lot of planning went into this and just before the ban we were running 18 stop smoking groups each week in the prisons we cover. The preparation and planning was based on very good research from university of Glasgow.
“There has been greater on-going demand for stop smoking services than even we anticipated and we continue to provide significant levels of support to those in custody.
“Our work continues as new prisoners arrive and need our help to manage in a smoke free prison.
“The best news is that the air quality in Scottish Prisons is now broadly similar to air quality outdoors. There is now evidence that Smoke Free Prisons resulted in 81% reduction in second hand smoke across Scottish prisons. This is good news for prisoners, staff and visitors.
“The response from all three prisons has been fantastic and former smokers are feeling the benefit of the ban. I look forward to seeing the on-going health benefits from this in the years to come.
“This programme is one of a number of smoking cessation services offered by NHSGGC where our quit rates are 22 % which is the best in the country if not one of the best internationally.”
If you are interested in stopping smoking please contact your local Quit Your Way team via 0800 84 84 84 or QuitYourWay.scot or text QUIT to 83434 for a free quit pack or CALL and a Quit Your Way advisor will call you back.