Community Corrections Tobacco Cessation Study

Tobacco use among individuals involved in the justice system is an ignored public health epidemic. Despite encouraging progress in tobacco cessation in the United States, justice-involved (JI) individuals still smoke at 3 to 4 times the rate of the general population. In response to the critical need for tobacco cessation services among justice-involved populations, BHWP partnered with Arkansas Department of Health and Arkansas Community Correction to implement and test the first statewide adoption of an evidence-based tobacco cessation program. Between October 2013 and June 2015, 1,100 unique individuals within all probation, parole, and drug court units across the state were enrolled in BHWP’s DIMENSIONS: Tobacco Free Program. Individuals attended weekly group sessions at community correction offices, facilitated by certified substance abuse counselors trained in the DIMENSIONS Tobacco Free curriculum. During each session, participants completed a progress form to assess tobacco use, quit attempts, and readiness to quit. Results demonstrated a significant reduction in tobacco use over the 6-week group, as well as increased knowledge, confidence, and intent to quit. This study provided the first evidence that a statewide implementation of an evidence-based tobacco cessation program is feasible, effective, and sustainable in a population that is uniquely vulnerable to the burden of tobacco.