Brown A, O'Donnell R, Eadie D, Purves R, Sweeting H, Ford A, Bauld L & Hunt K (2021) Initial views and experiences of vaping in prisons: a qualitative study with people in custody preparing for the imminent implementation of Scotland's prison smokefree policy. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 23 (3), pp. 543-549. https://doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa088
Scotland is one of few countries in which e-cigarettes were available in prisons before the introduction of a comprehensive national smokefree policy, to assist in its implementation. This qualitative study explores initial views and experiences of vaping in this specific context, from the perspective of people in custody (prisoners).
Twenty-eight people in custody were interviewed ~1-2 months after rechargeable e-cigarettes were made available in prisons and 2-5 weeks before implementation of a smokefree policy. Data were thematically analysed to identify the range and diversity of views and experiences.
Participants expressed support for e-cigarettes in preparation for the smokefree policy, describing their symbolic and practical value in this context. Uptake of vaping was strongly influenced by the need for participants to manage without tobacco in the near future. Participants evaluated their initial vaping experiences, either positively or negatively, in relation to the utility of e-cigarettes for mandated smoking abstinence and in providing satisfaction, pleasure and novelty. Participant views on several issues related to e-cigarette use, both specific to the prison population (product choice, cost) and more generally (safety and long-term use), are explored.
Our findings suggest possible benefits of e-cigarettes as one means of supporting smokefree policy in a population with many smokers. They also point to potential challenges posed by vaping in prisons and smokefree settings caring for similar populations. There is a need for ongoing measures to maximise the health benefits of smokefree settings, and for further research on vaping in situations of enforced abstinence.
To our knowledge, no published studies have explored views and experiences of vaping in prison, when rechargeable vapes were new and the removal of tobacco was imminent. The results can inform tobacco control policy choices, planning and implementation in prisons and similar settings. In prison systems which permitting vaping, it is important that other measures (e.g. information campaigns, nicotine dependence services) are implemented concurrently to minimise potential risks to the health or personal finances of people in custody.
safety; tobacco; qualitative research; electronic cigarettes; correctional facilities; vaping; smokers
Nicotine and Tobacco Research: Volume 23, Issue 3