It’s lighters out in Queensland’s prisons with all correctional facilities going smoke-free from today, but many prisoners have already chosen to butt out.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said Queensland Corrective Services and Health officials had worked hard all year to ensure a smooth transition to the new, healthier policy.
“We made a commitment to Queenslanders that we would revitalise frontline services and this will literally be a breath of fresh air for not only Corrective Services staff and prisoners, but all Queenslanders,” Mr Bleijie said.
“Prison cells have been smoke free since 2008 and we are now extending that to all other areas of Queensland’s correctional facilities.
“It follows similar, successful smoke-free rollouts in other jurisdictions’ prisons, including New Zealand and the Northern Territory. New South Wales, Victoria and the United Kingdom are also in the process of making their correctional facilities smoke free.
“This is for the health of our hard working Corrective Services staff as well as prisoners and it will reduce the cost of treating smoking-related health problems to Queensland taxpayers.
“The harmful effects of smoking and second-hand smoke are irrefutable. Smoking kills 3,500 Queenslanders each year and contributes to more deaths and hospitalisations than alcohol and illicit drug use combined while second-hand smoke increases the chances of lung cancer and heart disease in non-smokers by 30 per cent.
“A quarter of the State’s prisoners suffer from chronic tobacco-related illnesses and the doctor’s bill is picked up by Queenslanders.”
Mr Bleijie said prisoners had been, and will continue to be, supported by a Department of Health guideline, Working Toward Smoke-Free Prison Implementation, which was developed by expert clinicians and includes the use of nicotine replacement therapy patches
“An independent analysis of Queensland correctional centres’ transition processes and plans was conducted by a prison manager from the New Zealand Department of Corrections who confirmed that we were well prepared,” he said.
“To their credit, many prisoners had already embraced the change before today’s final butt out.
“Correctional centres have general had 50 to 70 per cent of identified smoking prisoners undertaking the cessation program with some centres reporting a quitting rate of more than 80 per cent.
“An Australian Government survey in 2012 showed 46 per cent of prisoners expressed a desire to quit smoking, so there was already an intent by almost half the prison population to improve their health.
“The introduction of tobacco and smoke-free corrective services facilities will result in direct and meaningful improvements in the health and well being of all staff, prisoners and visitors to a corrective services facility.”