While the health benefits of smoke-free policies are well documented, the implementation of such a policy requires significant and careful planning to manage the associated security risks and impacts.
Experiences in other jurisdictions have also demonstrated the need for government support, resourcing and inter-agency collaboration to effectively manage the transition.
Corrective Services WA has been liaising with government and key stakeholders for many years regarding policy initiatives to ban and reduce smoking in prisons.
Several initiatives have been implemented to help prisoners and staff reduce or quit smoking, including:
- The implementation of smoke-free spaces in prisons (from 2009)
- Awareness initiatives, briefings and inductions using Cancer Council resources,
- Access to Quitline,
- Access to quitting aids and supports and nicotine replacement therapies,
- Health centre support, and
- Making confidential counselling available to staff and prisoners.
The Department acknowledges current controls around smoking restrictions can be improved.
A Review of Smoking in WA Prisons by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, tabled in State Parliament today, confirmed the complexity of addressing smoking in prisons.
The review also noted the importance of a well-planned, collaborative effort including consultation with custodial staff and prisoners.
Four of the nine recommendations have already been implemented by the Department.
Commissioner for Corrective Services, Mike Reynolds, said implementing a smoke free policy would require a cautious, staged approach.
“Key risk considerations would include the safety of the facilities and the impact of a ban on prisoners addicted to tobacco,” Commissioner Reynolds said.