Smoking will be banned in all SA prisons by 2019 under a State Government pledge

Mitch Mott, The Advertiser, Adelaide

ALL South Australian prisons will be smoke-free by the end of 2019, the State Government has pledged, breaking the habit for more than 80 per cent of ­inmates.

The State Government has tasked a committee to ensure the transition is made by the end of next year, taking into account the needs of each prison.

The move is intended to protect the health of prisoners and corrections personnel exposed to second-hand smoke.

“We’ve taken an important step to improve the health and safety of both prisoners and staff who work in prison environments,” Corrections Minister Chris Picton said.

“Our focus will be to work closely with staff on the ground to make sure that each individual site has a localised plan in place that is appropriate for its own needs.”

Public Service Association secretary Nev Kitchin said the smoke-free policy had to be rolled out carefully to avoid an increase in violence towards guards or property damage.

“Smoking in prisons has been an issue for a long time,” Mr Kitchin said.

“It needs to be carefully rolled out. For non-smokers going to prison at the moment, it becomes just a matter of time before they become smokers.”

Cigarettes and tobacco are an important part of prison culture, becoming a currency between prisoners.

In 2015 a riot at Victoria’s Metropolitan Remand Centre was sparked by the canteen running out of tobacco ahead of a smoking ban. Damage ran to more than $10 million.

“We have learnt from Victoria’s mistake,” Mr Kitchin said. “We will be very careful in implementing the plan.

“We didn’t have any of these issues when the Adelaide Remand Centre went smoke-free in 2016.”

Cancer Council SA chief executive Lincoln Size said South Australian prisons had some of the highest smoking rates in the country, with 83 per cent of prisoners identifying as smokers.

“Unfortunately, the challenge facing South Australian prisoners and correctional facilities is having the right tools, support and smoke-free policies in place to eradicate smoking in prisons,” Mr Size said.

“Having learnt from the implementation of smoke-free prisons in other states and territories, the South Australian Government is now uniquely placed to implement the policy here.”

The Adelaide Remand Centre went smoke-free in March 2016 and a new unit of the Women’s Prison has been smoke-free since October 2017.

Smokers will be offered nicotine lozenges as a method of nicotine replacement therapy.

The Advertiser revealed in December that nicotine patches were costing as much as $250,000 a year at the smoke-free Adelaide Remand Centre.

Source: The Advertiser