‘Cigarette ban will only lead to tension’

TOBACCO BAN: On Monday, all tobacco and nicotine products were banned from the state’s jails including Junee Correctional Centre.A PRISONER’S advocate group has labelled the decision to ban smoking in Junee’s jailas“deliberatetorment”.

Justice Action co-ordinator Brett Collins said banning smoking was “totally unnecessary” and added to the de-humanisation of inmates.

On Monday, the ban took effect with many of the state’s prisons taking extra security measures to prevent a repeat of a riot which occurred in a Victorian prison earlier this year.

Matches, lighters and e-cigarettes areincluded.

The ban is state-wide including theJunee Correctional Centre –operated by the GEO Group.

“The idea of making a rule banning something which is acceptable in the community is unjustifiable,” Mr Collins said.

He said the decision would only add to tension inside prisons.

Mr Collins said when prisoners were inside correctional facilities, they were best served with the opportunity to improve their life –whether through study or the opportunity to develop healthy habits.

“Everyone knows how hard it is to quit smoking, it just doesn’t happen by taking it away,” he said.

“Effectively, you end up with resentful prisoners, instead of having someone making positive choices.”

Mr Collins said Justice Action had called on Corrections NSW to offer something in lieu of the tobacco ban, such as providing fresh food allowing inmates to share their culture and learn skillsor usinge-cigarettes.

Mr Collins said tobacco was often more than just having something to smoke and banning could see its value increase, opening the door to corruption.

Corrective ServicesNSW commissioner Peter Severin defended the ban, which he said NSW was adopting following the introduction of similar bans in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Communal areas inside jails are already smoke-free,the ban expands toincludecells and outdoor areas.

“We have made a commitment to implement this change for the health of our prison staff and are well prepared for the transition,” MrSeverin said.

“We have learned lessons from the disturbance in Victoria, and an independent analysis conducted by Queensland Corrective Services has confirmed that we’re ready to go.”

The Justice Health and Forensic Health Network (JHFHN)will provide nicotine replacement treatments instate-run prisons.

Data from JHFHN indicates 78 per cent of NSW’s inmates smoke tobacco.

Junee Correctional Centre’s operators –the GEO Group were contacted for comment.

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