THE Prisoners Advisory Legal Service has warned of a cigarette black market and increased inmate tension for when Tasmanian prisons go smoke-free early next year.
The state government’s Smoke-free Prison Project is already being rolled out, with all inmates and prison staff to be totally banned from smoking on jail grounds from early next year.
Prisoners Advisory Legal Service chairman Greg Barns said the ban was discrimination against prisoners and that was counterproductive.
‘‘It’ll increase tension and lead to the black market,’’ he said.
Mr Barns said he didn’t blame inmates for smoking or taking drugs out of boredom or stress of prison life.
‘‘It’s a bit unfair for them to make them go cold turkey,’’ he said.
He said it was also unfair that prisoners wouldn’t have the same access to addiction therapy and health care as people in the general public.
The ban follows those already in place in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Victoria has also pledged to go smoke-free in prisons by July next year and New South Wales by August.
Corrections Minister Vanessa Goodwin said the Smoke-free Prison Project had been implemented successfully at the Hobart and Launceston Reception Prisons, the Mary Hutchinson Women’s Prison and a number of areas within the Risdon Prison complex and Ron Barwick Minimum Security Prison, which includes the O’Hara Cottages.
She said prisoners would be being provided with a range of supports to assist with the change. These include information sessions by QUIT Tasmania, face-to-face support from trained QUIT Champions, access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy and the scheduling of additional activities to keep the prisoners occupied and active during the initial withdrawal phase.
Quit Tasmania acting chief executive Kathryn Terry said the ban would help reduce the 80per cent smoking rate for prisoners.
CPSU acting general secretary Mat Johnston said the ban was a complex issue, but that it couldn’t be used as an excuse if there was an increase in prison violence.
‘‘There’s a code of conduct and way prisoners should behave,’’ he said.
Nick McKim committed to providing a smoke-free environment for Tasmanian prison staff and inmates in June 2013, when he was Corrections Minister.