Post 15 Oct 2020, 03:31

Smoking ban leads to increase in assaults on prison staff

ELEANOR HALL: The Queensland Law Society is calling for a review into the ban on smoking in prisons in response to reports that it sparked an increase in assaults on prison guards.

The Queensland union which represents prison officers says assaults have doubled since the ban was introduced in May.

NANCE HAXTON: The Queensland Government banned smoking in prisons in May this year, saying the change would protect the health of corrective services staff and reduce the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses among prisoners.

While Queensland prison cells have been smoke-free since 2008, the ban now extends to all areas of Queensland jails.

The Queensland Law Society is now calling for that ban to be reviewed Cigarette Tobacco For Sale.

President Ian Brown says the ban was ill-considered, and has had dire consequences.

IAN BROWN: There are only a certain number of correctional facilities that provide that support to prisoners who are seeking to withdraw from tobacco use. Seven of 13 correctional facilities in Queensland provide that level of support.

NANCE HAXTON: And what about for those that do have to go cold turkey, do you think that could lead to issues in prisons as well?

IAN BROWN: There are a whole range of physiological Tobacco Store, physical and mental symptoms that people suffer. If you apply that, then, to a concentrated prison population, when you are dealing with people, many of whom have issues in relation to pre-existing substance abuse, people who may have behavioural management issues of long term duration, and then these are people who are reliant on cigarettes and nicotine as, essentially to assist them in anger management, and you take that away from them, then you're going to have a problem.

NANCE HAXTON: United Voice is the union that represents Queensland's prison officers.

Coordinator Michael Clifford says the number and severity of assaults against prison officers has increased since the ban was brought in.

MICHAEL CLIFFORD: Just in September, the last month, we've seen assault levels more than double of what they were at the same time last year. In August, they were almost double what we saw last year. In July, again, they were double what we saw last year.

So we saw a real spike in assaults happening in prisons the month that the smoking ban was introduced Cigarettes Online.

NANCE HAXTON: Is there enough support for prisoners who are essentially forced into breaking their smoking habit?

MICHAEL CLIFFORD: There was a weaning off of tobacco in the months leading up to the smoking ban; anecdotally we know of a black market that's starting to appear around tobacco. We hear that prisoners are paying up to $500 for 25 grams of tobacco in the prisons Newport Cigarettes.

NANCE HAXTON: Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie was not available for interview, but issued a statement saying that all prisoners have access to a special quit and support program, which includes nicotine patches.

Mr Bleijie says the ban follows other successful smoke-free prison rollouts in New Zealand, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria.

Cancer Council Queensland is backing the Queensland Government's move.

Spokeswoman Katie Clift says it is vital that the support given to prisoners to give up smoking continues.

KATIE CLIFT: Looking at what prisoners suffer in terms of disease related to smoking, about one in four do suffer from chronic tobacco related conditions - so things like asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, with a very high risk of future cancer. So this has been a very important move and we believe that the support that has been provided has been adequate in helping them to quit and to improve their long-term health.

NANCE HAXTON: However Michael Clifford says the smoking ban has coincided with an increase in prisoners, unnecessarily increasing security issues for staff in an already tense environment Marlboro Lights.

MICHAEL CLIFFORD: Prison numbers have been increasing dramatically, to the point where you've got prisoners doubling up in cells, where you've got understaffing occurring so that programs in the prison are shut Marlboro Menthol.
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