A Qualitative Study of Smoking Behaviors among Newly Released Justice-Involved Men and Women in New York City

Pamela Valera, Lauren Bachman, A. Justin Rucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Long-term effects of cigarette smoking result in an estimated 443,000 deaths each year, including approximately 49,400 deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco is a major risk factor for a variety of chronic health problems, including certain cancers and heart disease. In this article, authors present qualitative findings derived from individual interviews with men and women who were incarcerated in New York state and New York City. Participants were 60 racially and ethnically diverse men and women ages 21 through 60 (M = 46.42, SD = 6.88). Of the participants interviewed, 91.7 percent released from a smoke-free correctional facility resumed cigarette smoking and 8.3 percent remained abstinent. Daily consumption ranged from smoking four cigarettes to 60 cigarettes. The four themes that emerged from the study were (1) lifetime exposure to cigarette smoking influences smoking behavior; (2) cigarettes help relieve stress and are pleasurable; (3) there is a relationship between access, availability, and relapse; and (4) smoking cessation strategies are available. Negative influences from participants' families and peers, stressful housing situations, and mandated programs emerged from this study as key challenges to abstaining from smoking cigarettes. Involving family members and partners in smoking cessation interventions could influence newly released justice-involved men and women not to resume cigarette smoking and possibly maintain long-term abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalHealth and Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)


  • cessation
  • criminal justice
  • qualitative research
  • risk for tobacco use


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