Inmates will, however, be allowed to continue using e-cigarettes after Island health professionals this week agreed that despite growing concerns about the health impact of ‘vaping’ it is an acceptable pathway to stop smoking.
Moves to cut down on the use of tobacco in La Moye prison started in 2013, when smoking inside the secure perimeter was banned for all staff and prisoners, while inmates were restricted to smoking in cells or the open-air exercise yards.
Home Affairs Minister Kristina Moore said that the latest move would improve the health of both staff and prisoners.
‘We will be supporting the prisoner population by offering increased smoking cessation and alternative support services in the run-up to and after the smoke-free date,’ she said.
‘Further to the recent releases of the public health consensus statement on the use of e-cigarettes, we will also be permitting the sale of “prison safe” e-cigarette devices to prisoners to ensure they have similar access as the general public to products that, for smokers, are less harmful than smoking tobacco on their journey to stopping smoking altogether.’
She added that the ban should be in place, at the latest, by early 2019. A similar smoking ban is being applied in prisons across the UK.
The Island’s latest Tobacco Strategy says that smoking is a leading cause of preventable illness in Jersey, causing around 140 deaths and 1,000 Hospital admissions annually.
A States statement says that the strategy identified that around four-fifths of new inmates are smokers and more support is required to help them quit.
Dr Linda Diggle, head of preventive services at the Health Department, said that a smoke-free prison would be a ‘good opportunity’ for prisoners to improve their health and kick the habit.
‘Stop-smoking nurse specialists have been running stop-smoking group sessions in prison working to reduce the high rate of smoking among prisoners,’ she added.
‘Success so far has been above what we would have expected with 40 per cent of the prisoners having been validated as quit by carbon monoxide monitoring at four weeks and an additional 20 per cent also went on to stop smoking completely.
‘Our specialist stop-smoking nurses will be working alongside prison staff to provide ongoing support for prisoners to stop smoking both in the run-up to going smoke free as well as once the new policy is in place in 2019.’