UK Inmates 'riot' over new prison smoking ban phased in by Government

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Inmates are staging riots over a new Government ban on smoking in prisons, which is seeing tobacco steadily phased out.

A ban on tobacco cigarettes is now being slowly introduced into prisons, with several jails already having banned them outright.

Others, meanwhile, are preparing to be completely smoke-free by September.

One recent inmate of Drake Hall Women’s Prison told that she was dismayed to see how the smoking ban had changed the atmosphere in the jail.

She said: ‘We got all the leaflets about how the ban was going to happen – first the shop would stop selling tobacco, and then the total ban would come in.

‘Within the first week of the shop stopping selling it there was a riot. Loads of prisoners refused to go back to their cells and it was mayhem.

‘There were women screaming and shouting, sitting on the roofs of blocks. After it calmed down a lot of those involved were transferred, probably to prisons where they can smoke.

‘If they know stopping smoking is going to cause so much trouble why are they pushing ahead? If women in an open prison riot, then what are all the men in a maximum security jail going to do?’

The prison service confirmed that there was an incident at HMP Drake Hall in Staffordshire.

A prison service spokesman said: ‘Drake Hall is not currently smoke-free, but is working towards becoming smoke-free.

‘Staff successfully resolved an incident involving a number of offenders at HMP Drake Hall on Wednesday, May 14.

‘No injuries were sustained by prisoners or staff and there was no threat to the public.’

There are potential solutions. Over the last two years, for example, the Prison Service has been promoting the sale of electronic cigarettes in jails in a bid to wean inmates off tobacco.

But with an estimated 80% of male prisoners being smokers, and the use of tobacco as a currency in jails, the ban could still have some unforeseen consequences.


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