Smoking ban in Exeter prison postponed
The plan to ban smoking in Exeter prison cells has been postponed due to fears it would provoke disturbances.
Exeter, which holds 500 inmates, was set to be the pilot prison for the scheme but now the plans have been pushed back.
However a complete ban on smoking in prisons looks set to be introduced in the next two years, with prisoners expected to be provided with nicotine patches or electronic cigarettes instead.
Experts have warned of the reaction from prisoners once the ban is enforced.
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Phil Wheatley, when he was director-general of the Prison Service, warned MPs that a ban could backfire.
“You don’t have a lot going for you in prison,” he said. “You are deprived of most things you might ordinarily enjoy ... To take yet another thing away will not be wildly popular with a group who are not always charming and pleasant in their behaviour.”
He added: “I would expect to find there was an increase in incidents of assaults on staff. We do need to make sure that we do not cause significant problems for disturbed people arriving with us with already a multitude of problems.”
Smoking in prisons has been restricted since the general ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into force in 2007, but inmates are allowed to smoke in their own cell because it has been designated “their permanent or temporary home”.
Campaigners have stated that smoking in prisons should be banned as it creates a health risk for prison workers , with one study showing that guards were exposed to passive smoking levels similar to those once faced by pub staff.