A Queensland Corrective Services spokesman confirmed yesterday 242 prisoners were taking part in a 12 week smoking cessation support program being funded by the Department of Health.
He said every new prisoner who arrived was assessed as well aseveryone on the program.
“Prisoners will generally be supplied one week’s supply of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) at a time,” he said.
Union officials have raised concerns assault rates may jump when the ban starts in May.
Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said yesterday they supported the efforts to help prisoners quit, but held concerns the patches would replace cigarettes as prison currency.
“As new prisoners come in, they will be issued patches,” he said.
“These patches are going to become almost contraband in jail, there will be stand over tactics.
“And prisoners are pretty ingenious, they’ll use their teabags and infuse the tea with nicotine patches and smoke the tea.”
Smoking is already banned in cells, but Lotus Glen prisoners raised the State Government’s ire last year when it emerged more than 400 televisions had been destroyed within 12 months so their cables could be used as lighters.
Premier Campbell Newman threatened to remove televisions from cells altogether.
Mr Thomas said forcing prisoners to quit smoking cold turkey”would not be a good option”, but the ban, combined with overcrowding was creating a melting pot.
“We’re worried this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The QCS spokesman said a quit smoking program had been available to prisoners since 2009 and an Australian Government survey had shown that 46 per cent of prisoners had expressed a desire to quit.
“This change (smoking ban) will be managed by supporting prisoners (and staff) to quit,” he said.
“This support will cost less than the health care the prisoners would have required due to smoking related illnesses.
Do you agree with the ban on smoking in jails? Let us know in the comments below.
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