O'Donnell R, Brown A, Eadie D, Mitchell D, Bauld L, Demou E, Purves R, Sweeting H & Hunt K (2022) Challenges associated with e-cigarette use by people in custody in Scottish prisons: a qualitative interview study with prison staff. BMJ Open, 12 (2), Art. No.: e051009. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051009
Objectives: Little is known about the perspectives of staff working in prisons where e-cigarettes are permitted. Scotland now permits people in custody (PiC), but not staff/visitors to use e-cigarettes, following implementation of smoke-free prisons policy in 2018. Previous studies, conducted before and immediately after the introduction of e-cigarettes in Scottish prisons, have evidenced
stakeholder support for their use by PiC. This study focuses on key challenges associated with e-cigarette use in prisons, using data collected from prison staff once ecigarettes had been allowed in a smoke-free environment for 6–9 months.
Setting: Five prisons in Scotland.
Participants: Sixteen qualitative interviews were conducted with prison staff from five prisons varying by population (sex, age and sentence length). Data were managed and analysed using the framework approach.
Results: While these staff confirmed strong support for the smoke-free prison policy and reported some benefits of replacing tobacco with e-cigarettes, they also spoke of the challenges e-cigarettes pose. These included: workplace e-cigarette vapour exposures; perceptions
that e-cigarettes provide a new, effective way for some PiC to take illegal drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances; organisational challenges relating to the value attached to e-cigarettes in prisons; and implications for long-term nicotine use and tobacco cessation. Staff anticipated difficulties in tightening restrictions on ecigarette use by PiC given its scale and significance
among this population.
Conclusions: Maximising the benefits of e-cigarette use by PiC is likely to require multiple measures to support effective and safe use and e-cigarette reduction/cessation where desired. This includes monitoring any misuse of e-cigarettes, and provision of guidance and support on appropriate e-cigarette use and how to limit or quit use if
desired. Findings are relevant to jurisdictions considering or planning changes in prison smoking or vaping policies.
BMJ Open: Volume 12, Issue 2