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Tob Use Insights. 2019 Mar 12;12:1179173X19833357. doi: 10.1177/1179173X19833357. eCollection 2019.

Smoking and Smoking Cessation Among Criminal Justice-Involved Older Adults.

Author information

Division of Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.
Epidemiology Division, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA.
Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and Prevention Research Center, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA.



In jails and prisons worldwide, older adults are among the fastest growing demographic groups. Criminal justice-involved populations smoke tobacco at high rates. Older adults are also disproportionate smokers and have more difficulty quitting smoking than other age groups. Yet, little is known about tobacco use or knowledge and attitudes toward smoking cessation among the growing population of incarcerated older adults.


A descriptive, cross-sectional survey study of 102 adults aged 55 years or older recently incarcerated in an urban jail using items from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).


More than 70% of participants reported being current smokers despite strong knowledge (95%) of the connection between smoking and serious illness. More than half of current smokers reported a past failed quit attempt (62%) and/or said they would like to quit (60%).


High rates of tobacco use in this population suggest that correctional institutions represent a critical site for the delivery of appropriate smoking cessation interventions to older adults, including integrated treatment approaches for those with co-occurring behavioral health diagnoses.


aging; cessation; jail; older adults; smoking

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of conflicting interests:The author(s) declared the following potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: BW has served as an expert witness and as a court consultant in legal cases related to prison conditions of confinement. These relationships have included the National American Civil Liberties Union; Squire Patton Boggs; the Center for Constitutional Rights; and others. No such organization played a role in the design, recruitment, data collection, analysis, or preparation of this manuscript. No other authors have conflicting interests to report. The authors have read and confirmed their agreement with the ICMJE authorship and conflict of interest criteria. The authors also confirm that this article is unique and not under consideration or published in any other publication.

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