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OP18 From smoking-permitted to smokefree prisons: a 3-year evaluation of the changes in occupational exposure to second-hand smoke across a national prison system
  1. S Semple1,
  2. E Demou2,
  3. R Dobson1,
  4. H Sweeting2,
  5. S Sidwell3,
  6. A Brown1,
  7. R O’Donnell1,
  8. K Hunt1
  1. 1Institute for Social Marketing and Health, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2MRC/CSO SPHSU, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3Scottish Prison Service, SPS, Edinburgh, UK


Background Prisons were one of the only workplaces where smoking continued to be permitted after the smoking ban in indoor public places in Scotland in 2006. Hence, the prison workforce remained potentially exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS). In November 2018 comprehensive restrictions on smoking in Scottish prisons were introduced to protect staff and people in custody from SHS exposure. This study compares SHS exposure assessment results six months after implementation of smokefree policy with levels measured in 2016 before the policy was announced.

Methods Setting: Scotland’s 15 prisons

In 2016, 128,431 minutes of PM2.5 (as a marker of SHS) concentration data were collected from residential halls and 2,860 minutes for ‘task-based’ measures; equivalent figures for 2019 were 126,777 minutes (residential halls) and 3,073 minutes (task based).

Six days of fixed-site monitoring were conducted in residential halls in each prison over 6 days commencing 22.5.19. Task-based measurements were also conducted to assess SHS in specific locations (e.g. workshops) and during specific activities (e.g. cell searches). Utilising these monitoring data, typical daily PM2.5 exposure profiles were constructed for the prison service and time-weighted average exposure concentrations were estimated for typical shift patterns for residential staff pre- and post-implementation of the smokefree policy. Staff self-reports of exposure to SHS were also gathered using online surveys.

Results Measured PM2.5 in residential halls declined markedly; median fixed-site concentrations reduced by more than 91% compared to baseline. The changes in the task-based measurements (89% average decrease for high-exposure tasks) and time-weighted average concentrations across shifts (over 90% decrease across all shifts), provide evidence that prison staff exposure to SHS has significantly reduced. The percentage of staff reporting no exposure to SHS rose between from 19% to 74% among all staff in Phase 3.

Discussion To our knowledge, this study is the first comprehensive international study to objectively measure SHS levels before, during and after implementation of a smokefree policy across a country’s prison system. The dramatic reduction in SHS exposures confirmed complementary qualitative data and stakeholder reports of the success of the smoking ban in removing tobacco.

The findings demonstrate that SHS exposures can be effectively eliminated through a well-applied smoking ban in the challenging context of prisons; and are highly relevant for other jurisdictions considering changes to prison smoking legislation.

  • tobacco control
  • health policy
  • prisons

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