Trust Stop Smoking Team Helps Encourage Better Health in Prisons

24th March 2023

Smoking in Northern Ireland’s prisons is five times greater compared to the rest of the community.

Attempting to stop smoking while in the prison requires determination and high quality interventions, in order to successfully maintain this major behavioural change.

A Stop Smoking Service, which is a collaboration between the South Eastern HSC Trust Health Development Team and the Prison Healthcare Team has been hugely successful and has helped many in the prison environment on their smoking cessation journey.

Matthew, who is in prison and is currently using the service, highlighted the benefits saying “I wanted to stop smoking because I am very much into my fitness.  Since quitting, my fitness levels have improved. Before I stopped smoking, every time I played football or undertook any exercise, I felt like I could not breathe properly and my chest would tighten. After one week of quitting, my chest and lungs have improved enormously.

“When I first started the programme it was tough, but because I was determined to quit, it gave me the drive and determination, if you really want to stop smoking, you can!  The Stop Smoking Service is a really helpful. The team provides encouragement each week and carry out carbon monoxide readings to monitor improvement. The team also provides Nicotine Replacement Therapy to help reduce the levels of nicotine in your body.

“I feel the Stop Smoking Service has really helped me and I would highly recommend it to anyone in the prison setting who is keen to quit smoking.”

The Health Development Team delivering this service has used their knowledge, skills and expertise to develop and deliver the service to the highest standard.  The results of the programme have exceeded all expectations, with 65% of smokers stopping smoking after four weeks, which is above target and an incredible achievement.

Behind these statistics are people who have reduced their likelihood of developing cardiac, respiratory and other serious illnesses and improved their overall health.

The success of this pilot project has led to plans being developed to replicate the service across all prison sites in Northern Ireland.