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The impact of implementation of a national smoke-free prisons policy on indoor air quality: results from the Tobacco in Prisons study
  1. Sean Semple1,
  2. Ruaraidh Dobson1,
  3. Helen Sweeting2,
  4. Ashley Brown1,
  5. Kate Hunt1
  6. on behalf of the Tobacco in Prisons (TIPs) research team
  1. 1 Institute of Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2 MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sean Semple, Institute of Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; sean.semple{at}


Objective To determine secondhand smoke (SHS) concentrations in prisons during the week of implementation of a new, national prisons smoke-free policy.

Design Repeated measurement of SHS concentrations immediately before and after implementation of smoke-free policies across all 15 prisons in Scotland, and comparison with previously gathered baseline data from 2016.

Methods Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements at a fixed location over a continuous 6-day period were undertaken at the same site in each prison as previously carried out in 2016. Outdoor air quality data from the nearest local authority measurement station were acquired to determine the contribution of outdoor air pollution to indoor prison measurement of PM2.5.

Results Air quality improved in all prisons comparing 2016 data with the first full working day postimplementation (overall median reduction −81%, IQR −76% to −91%). Postimplementation indoor PM2.5 concentrations were broadly comparable with outdoor concentrations suggesting minimal smoking activity during the period of measurement.

Conclusions This is the first evaluation of changes in SHS concentrations across all prisons within a country that has introduced nationwide prohibition of smoking in prisons. All prisons demonstrated immediate substantial reductions in PM2.5 following policy implementation. A smoke-free prisons policy reduces the exposure of prison staff and prisoners to SHS.

  • correctional facilities
  • SHS
  • ETS
  • work
  • PM2.5

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  • SS and RD contributed equally.

  • Collaborators We acknowledge the contribution of our co-investigators in the TIPs research team to the overall design of the TIPs study (Professor Linda Bauld, Dr Kathleen Boyd, Dr Philip Conaglen, Dr Peter Craig, Dr Evangelia Demou, Douglas Eadie, Professor Alastair Leyland and Professor Jill Pell).

  • Contributors SS, HS and KH developed the overall TIPs research project, while SS designed the study reported in this paper. All authors conducted fieldwork. Data were downloaded and analysed by SS and RD. RD and SS wrote the manuscript in consultation with HS, AB and KH. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (project number 15/55/44). HS gratefully acknowledges core funding from UK MRC and Chief Scientist Office (MC_UU_12017/12; SPHSU12) contributing to her work within prison settings.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for the TIPs study was granted by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Research Access and Ethics Committee and the University of Glasgow’s College of Social Sciences Ethics Committee (reference number: 400150213).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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