QUEENSLAND prisoners have been forced to quit smoking with all correctional facilities this week going smoke-free.
Prison cells have been smoke free since 2008, but the policy has now been extended to cover all other areas of Queensland’s jails.
It follows similar, successful smoke-free roll-outs in other jurisdictions’ prisons, including New Zealand and the Northern Territory.
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New South Wales and Victoria are also in the process of making their correctional facilities smoke free.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said many prisoners had already chosen to butt out with Queensland Corrective Services and Health officials working hard all year to ensure a smooth transition to the new, healthier policy.
“We made a commitment to Queenslanders that we would revitalise front-line 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.
Mr Bleijie said it would also reduce the cost of treating smoking-related health problems to Queensland taxpayers.
“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 correctional centres have generally had between 50 to 70 per cent of identified smoking prisoners undertake the program, with some centres reporting a quitting rate of more than 80 per cent.
He said prisoners had been, and would 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 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,” he said.
“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.”