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Prison doesn’t work, not for quitters

| April 10, 2013

A new study has found that behavioral intervention provided to U.S. prison inmates who smoked before going to jail substantially increased their ability to remain smoke-free after release, according to a report by MedPage Today.

Most prisons in the U.S. are tobacco-free, with about 60 percent having total tobacco bans for staff and inmates, so most people entering the prison system are forced into abstinence.

Despite this, about 97 percent of prisoners who were smokers on being sent to prison return to smoking almost immediately upon release.

But three weeks after release, participants assigned to the behavioral intervention, known as Working Inside for Smoking Elimination (WISE), were 4.4 times more likely to refrain from smoking than those in a control group, according to Jennifer G. Clarke, MD, and colleagues at the Brown University Center for Primary Care and Prevention in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

In addition, in a multivariate analysis that controlled for factors such as age, ethnicity, and duration of smoking, the WISE participants were 6.6 times more likely to be smoke-free at three weeks, the researchers reported in their study, which was published online by JAMA Internal Medicine on April 8, that “forced smoking abstinence [was] not enough for smoking cessation.”