Nicotine replacement therapy use among former prisoners

C. Puljević*1, D.de Andrade 1,2, S.A. Kinner1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, M. Caroll3

1 Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
2 Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University
3 Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
4 Mater Research Institute, University of Queensland

5 School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
6 Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

*corresponding author: c.puljevic@griffith.edu.au

Background

Although a significant proportion of prisoners express a desire to quit smoking, high rates of tobacco smoking persist among former prisoners. Little is known about use of nicotine replacement therapy after release from prison.

Method

We linked data from a survey of 1,196 soon-to-be-released prisoners in Queensland with Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) records for the two years after release, to identify subsidised use of nicotine replacement therapy.

Findings

According to PBS data only 102 former prisoners (8.5%) accessed nicotine replacement therapy in the two years after release from prison.  Predictors of accessing prescribed NRT following prison include being aged over 25 years, employed, not a regular user of cannabis, and currently using other prescription medications.

Conclusion

Despite a high rate of tobacco use among former prisoners and the low cost of (subsidised) NRT, few ex-prisoners obtain pharmaceutical assistance with quitting smoking. Policy attention needs to focus on encouraging former prisoners to access nicotine replacement therapy, so that they may experience the multiple health and financial benefits of continued tobacco abstinence post-release.

Biography

Cheneal Puljevic is a PhD Candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University in Queensland. Her PhD project is looking at former prisoners relapse to tobacco smoking after release from smoke-free prisons in Queensland.

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