State officials lift tobacco ban in prison work camps
TALLAHASSEE -- Corrections officials quietly reversed a blanket ban on tobacco at prisons this summer and are now allowing inmates at work release centers to have up to 10 packs of cigarettes each.
Department of Corrections officials say they lifted the prohibition on tobacco-related products in the work release programs because they didn’t want prisoners so close to completing their sentences to have to go back behind bars for breaking the rules.
...The switch comes less than two years after DOC made all tobacco-related products off-limits at prisons, work camps and work release centers on Sept. 30, 2011.
“The decision to eliminate smoking and tobacco use was made to reduce the medical cost associated with exposure to tobacco, and eliminate secondhand smoke exposure to non-smokers,” the agency said in April 2011, when the ban was announced. The ban also applied to prison workers, who are not allowed to bring cigarettes into facilities, and to visitors. Death Row prisoners are allowed to buy two packs of smokeless tobacco products per week [harm reduction for the condemned - nice touch! - CJS].
The federal Bureau of Prisons and more than half of the other states also ban tobacco in prisons, but the prohibitions have created a new demand for cigarettes, a valuable commodity behind bars. According to some reports, inmates in New York City jails are paying up to $200 for a pack of smokes.
During a six-month period shortly after the Florida ban went into effect, nearly 30,000 inmates or prison workers were caught with some sort of tobacco contraband, according to DOC’s annual report.
Prohibition doesn't work - even in prison. Nevertheless, it is reported today (as it was in March) that the British government plans to introduce a total smoking ban in prisons in the next two years. At the moment, prisoners can only smoke in their cell - smoking is banned in communal areas - and nonsmokers are not forced to share a cell with smokers.
Prisons were originally exempt from the 2007 Health Act on the basis that they are the homes of inmates. The Prison Service also warned that a ban would lead to more assaults on staff. This sounds entirely reasonable. Too reasonable, indeed, for the unappeasable health lobby. As usual, secondhand smoke is being used as the excuse for more draconian rules, but the fact that smoking will also be banned in outdoor areas and exercise yards - and that smokeless tobacco will also be included - shows that it's not really about passive smoke and it's not really about health. But then, it never is.