“Smokers who are incarcerated, similar to other marginalized populations who smoke, lack the necessary skills to quit and have limited access to treatment options,” said Pamela Valera, an assistant professor in the Department of Urban-Global Public Health at the Rutgers School of Public Health. “Without smoke cessation resources and treatment, only 5 percent of those who quit will achieve long-term success.”

“By providing inmates the space to share their experiences surrounding nicotine withdrawal and nicotine dependence, many were able to learn coping strategies, identify their triggers, express their emotions with stressors while incarcerated and become supporters of each other’s quit journey.”
The Rutgers researchers conducted the study, which included 177 male and transgender female inmates from seven prisons, over six weeks. The average age the inmates was 18, and they had all smoked at least five cigarettes per day over the previous week.

The smoking cessation treatment included weekly group sessions on cognitive social learning, lifestyle changes, coping, healthy decision-making, maintenance and relapse prevention, and long-term abstinence. On top of this, the participants were given NRTs in the form of patches.

Group-based cessation support and training found effective

The compiled research results indicated that inmates who completed the six-week program had reduced smoking or quit all together. The researchers concluded that group-based smoking cessation support may be effective, and therefore warrants further research.

“By providing inmates the space to share their experiences surrounding nicotine withdrawal and nicotine dependence, many were able to learn coping strategies, identify their triggers, express their emotions with stressors while incarcerated and become supporters of each other’s quit journey,” said Nicholas Acuna, a Rutgers School of Public Health alumnus.

E-cigs are twice as effective as NRTs for smoking cessation

Meanwhile a renowned 2019 study, carried out by a team from London’s Queen Mary University, found that e-cigarettes are twice as a effective as other NRTs. Supported by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Programme and Cancer Research UK, the researchers followed nearly 900 smokers through their quit attempt for for a year.

The NRT group had a 9.9% abstinence rate at one year (still surprising given that previous studies had reported an NRT success rate of 5-7%). However, the e-cigarette group was almost twice as successful, with an abstinence rate of 18%.

Read Further: MedicalXpress

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