2 July 2012
Cleaner air and a reduction in smoking-related illnesses are just some of the benefits one year after the ban on smoking in prisons was implemented, Corrections’ Chief Executive, Ray Smith said today.
“Not only has the air quality of prisons improved, there has also been a drop in asthma and other respiratory symptoms and smoking-related illnesses in prisoners.
“Making prisons smokefree was the single most important health initiative we could have done for our 8,500 prisoners, 4,500 staff and the many visitors and volunteers who come to our prisons everyday,” he said.
A study of the air quality of Auckland Prison between May and August last year found air quality improved 57 percent after the ban on smoking took effect. Anecdotal reports from Prison Health Services show fewer prisoners have presented with smoking-associated issues such as asthma, other respiratory illnesses, and colds since the ban was implemented.
Smoking in all New Zealand prisons and grounds has been banned since 1 July 2011. It was the first time in the world that smoking was banned in a national corrections jurisdiction on one day.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is offered to all prison staff and prisoners. Prisoners also have access to the 0800 Quitline for further support.
From 1 November 2011 to 22 May 2012, of the 5,661 newly-received prisoners who identified as tobacco smokers, 4,177 elected to take NRT using either patches and/or lozenges.
As at 20 May 2012, there were 8,654 prisoners on muster (including Mt Eden Corrections Facility run by Serco). Of these, 1,082 were receiving NRT. This shows a reduction in prisoners using NRT to quit smoking.
Mr Smith said the smokefree policy gave prisoners a chance to make an important life change.
“We’re empowering prisoners to make life changes that may lead to lowering their re-offending rate. They also have the opportunity to spread the smokefree message to their family and friends”.
Many people were involved in making the prisons smokefree.
"The Department worked very closely with The Quit Group and the Ministry of Health to assist staff and prisoners to quit smoking. We also looked overseas to see how other jurisdictions adopted a similar policy,” Mr Smith said.
"There was a 12-month lead in period to prepare prisoners and staff for the implementation of smokefree prisons, and during this time a number of positive initiatives were introduced to help ensure a smooth transition to the change."
Last week the Department of Corrections’ smokefree policy won an award at a national public sector awards ceremony. The IPANZ (Institute of Public Administration New Zealand) Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards recognise and reward outstanding performances and work achievements of organisations and project teams in the New Zealand public sector.
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