NSW Attorney General and Minister for Justice Brad Hazzard – with support from Health Minister Jillian Skinner – has declared that NSW jails will become smoke-free in 12 months.
“NSW has substantially cleaned up its act on smoking and now it’s time for the same thing to happen inside the prison gates,” Hazzard said.
“From August 2015, smoking will be banned in NSW prisons. Inmates should have the same healthy lifestyle opportunities that those outside enjoy, and take that with them when they return to the community.
“About 17% of the community smoke and the rate is declining. Yet 75%-80% of inmates continue to smoke,” Hazzard said.
“I have been told that I should make this direction immediately. I won’t because it’s important that we work constructively together for this giant leap forward on health outcomes.
“Experience in other states and New Zealand which have banned smoking in prisons shows many inmates recognise the benefits and quit far sooner than the deadline.”
Cancer Council NSW CEO Jim L’Estrange applauded the decision and said: “Smoking rates are significantly higher in NSW prisons compared to the general population and it’s great to see the Government taking this important measure to protect non-smoking prisoners and staff from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”
Hazzard said there will be extensive consultation with staff, inmates and their families and health authorities in the next 12 months.
“Going smoke free has been well thought out and planned.
“A pilot program was done at Lithgow Correctional Centre and what will be delivered will satisfy WorkCover concerns for staff and inmate health”.
“I thank the Minister for Health Jillian Skinner for her support and funding from Justice Health to provide the important Nicotine Replacement Therapy”.
“Minister Skinner has been a strong advocate for a smoking free NSW and her willingness to take that enthusiasm behind the bars of prison will make a major difference to the NSW community”.
“From here on in I’ll be encouraging inmates to get fit and do circuits, not cigarettes,” Hazzard said.
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