Citation Sweeting H, Semple S, Demou E, Brown A & Hunt K (2019) Predictors of opinions on prison smoking bans: analyses of survey data from Scottish staff and prisoners. Tobacco Induced Diseases, 17 (June), Art. No.: 47. https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/109559
Policy-makers and practitioners need to understand characteristics associated with support for smoking restrictions to identify both potential allies and groups requiring particular support/targeted communication in the face of restrictions. Using data from prison staff and prisoners, we explored the structure and correlates of opinions relating to prison smoking bans.
Questionnaires were completed by staff (online, N=1,271; 27% return) and prisoners (paper-based; N=2,512; 34%) in all 15 Scottish prisons in 2016/17. At that time, prisoners could smoke in their own cells and during outdoor recreation; staff smoking was prohibited anywhere on prison grounds. Staff and prisoner questionnaires included identical/very similar questions around opinions on smoking in prisons and prison smoking bans, own smoking behaviour, health and sociodemographic details. We also measured fine particulate matter (PM2.5) as a proxy for second-hand smoke (SHS) levels in every prison.
Principal components analysis identified two factors: ‘Positive about bans’ (higher scores among staff) and ‘Bans will be difficult’ (higher scores among prisoners). In multivariate analyses, ‘Positive about bans’ was associated with: not smoking (both staff and prisoners); better general health, more respiratory symptoms and working in an operational role among staff; and no asthma, more sensory symptoms, higher educational level and status/release date among prisoners; ‘Bans will be difficult’, was associated with fewer sensory symptoms and lower prison SHS levels among staff, and being a smoker among prisoners. In smoker-only analyses, heavier smokers were less positive about bans and more likely to believe bans will be difficult.
Results suggest it is possible to be positive about prison smoking bans whilst also recognising and/or concerned about potential operational difficulties, and that these opinions are associated with several characteristics additional to smoker status. Support for future prison bans may be stronger if staff have access to objective SHS exposure measures.