Prisoners’ Perception of Tobacco Use and Cessation in Chhatisgarh, India - The Truth from Behind the Bars


Background: Prisoners represent a population group that is disadvantaged, socially deprived andunderprivileged, needing particular attention with regard to provision of necessary oral health care, healthpromotion and motivation and tobacco cessation. Considering the situation in prisons, smoking and tobaccochewing are burning issues related to health deterioration and economic loss that seem to be overlooked by thepublic health sectors. Aim: To assess prisoners’ perception of tobacco use and cessation in Chhatisgarh, India.Materials and
Methods: A pre-tested, close ended questionnaire was administered in the form of extensive faceto face interviews, to assess perceptions regarding tobacco use and cessation in the central jail of Durg Districtof Chhattisgarh state, India.
Results: Prevalence of tobacco usage amongst the prisoners was found to be 61%.Some 27% reported smoking, 44% used tobacco in the chewable form and 29% indulged in consuming tobaccoin both forms i.e. smoked as well as chewed. Results suggest several recommendations for policy relevance suchas provision of a prison dentist, a tobacco cessation counseling program and targeted eradication of oral cancerby educating the prisoners.
Conclusions: Health is a fundamental human “right of everyone to the enjoymentof the highest attainable standard of physical and mental well-being”. This applies to prisoners just as it doesto every other human being. The alarming findings in the study suggest the need for dental treatment facilitiesand tobacco cessation counseling in prisons.