Smoke free prisons

May 27th, 2012 at 9:10 am by David Farrar

Ian Steward in the SST reports:

Inmates are breathing easy following the prison smoking ban with scientists finding a greater than 50 per cent rise in air quality and – to everyone’s surprise – no major incidents since the big stub out.

Smoking was banned in New Zealand prisons on June 1 last year with stark warnings from prisoners, prison advocates, and guards of riots and disorder.

However, there were no riots and staff report a number of unforeseen benefits.

Prison services assistant general manager Rachel Leota said prisons had reported a “calmer” environment with fewer “standover” incidents now that tobacco has been taken out of circulation.

Inmates had been heard on the prison telephone monitoring system telling family they appreciated living in a smoke-free environment and encouraging family to give up.

I recall the predictions of riots and violence. I really should look up who was making those predictions, so that when they opine in future on prison policy, we can take this into account.

A team of scientists from Auckland University studying the amount of “fine particulate” in the air of prisons has found the rate halved after smoking was banned.

Dr Simon Thornley and colleagues set up an air quality monitor in Auckland Prison, at Paremoremo, and measured fine particulate concentrations for 15 days before and 15 days after the ban.

Readings were already low as the detector had to be set up in a staff area for safety concerns.

Before the ban the mean concentration was 6.58 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

This dropped to 5.17mcg once a ban on sale of cigarettes was introduced and fell further to 2.44mcg once the total ban was implemented. Thornley said despite the dramatic increase in air quality, the thing that surprised people the most was how well-behaved prisoners were while the ban was introduced.

Excellent.

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39 Responses to “Smoke free prisons”

  1. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    … and this appeared in the SST????

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  2. Pete George (23,562 comments) says:

    Good to see the positives, and the lack of negatives despite doom predictions.

    It’s a bit like the banning of smoking in bars, that hasn’t exactly wrecked our society.

    And I also note the better atmosphere in the smoke free FB stadium in Dunedin – partly due to being smoke-free. It was very annoying getting stuck near a smoker at Carisbrook.

    Last time I went to the stadium I noticed one person rushing out at halftime with cigarette in mouth and lighter poised in hand, but most smokers seem to have coped. And we’re all better off for it.

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  3. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    The elimination in incidents surrounding trading in cigarettes is interesting as well as other benefits such as no lighters and lighted cigarettes which could be a risk to health and safety. The next step is a shock increase say $5.00/packet immediately and a ban on smoking in public places.

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  4. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    in 50 years time, you’ll tell you grandchildren that people used to smoke and they’ll not believe you.

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  5. peterwn (3,272 comments) says:

    I am not at all sure that Corrections staff should be commenting about what they hear through the phone monitoring system. If they have commented in public on the tenor of conversations relating to smoking then heaven knows what chit-chat there is among Corrections staff concerning the legitimate private affairs of immates. If the conversation is ordinary and legitimate, then it should stay completely private. There would be an outrage if staff copied immates’ letters and circulated them.

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  6. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    It’s a bit like the banning of smoking in bars, that hasn’t exactly wrecked our society.

    It’s not a bit like smoking in bars.

    Bars are private property attended by free people. No one said it would wreck society, they said it is an attack on liberty; which it is.

    Those who wish to make NZ a smoke-free country aim to repeat the prisons policy; turning NZ into one big prison where we’re told what we can and can’t do.

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  7. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Was it not the Corrections Union who led the “riots” charge ? Typical Union.

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  8. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    I call “bullshit” on this.

    “Prisoners were heard…”, “scientists say….”, “Manager reports…….’

    Pull the other one. More PC ,social control selective reporting to suit a nanny state agenda.

    I’d like to know if there’s been an increase in prescriptions of some medicines to calm the smokers down……..or some such

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  9. Pete George (23,562 comments) says:

    Bars are private property attended by free people.

    Actually, public bars are sort of public. And free people have a right to be free of other peope’s health threatening pollution.

    I think most smokers are probably appreciative of bars being cleaned up of foul air and fouled decor.

    And prisoners have the same right not to have their envirionment poisoned.

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  10. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    Bars are no more public than your house. They are private property, used for a particular purpose.

    If someone doesn’t want to visit a smoky bar then they don’t have to. They can even open their own non-smoking bar if they wish.

    So the situation is completely different to prison (which is surely the point). Let’s try and keep it that way.

    I think most smokers are probably appreciative of bars being cleaned up of foul air and fouled decor.

    And I’d be appreciative of a whole bunch of statist intervention, forcing people to provide services in a manner I approve of. So where does that leave us? Fighting each other to gain control of the government, to see who gets to impose their views on everyone else?

    Better, surely, to just have the state keep out of people’s lives as far as possible.

    The dangers of smoking are known by everyone. In fact, given the lies perpetuated about other people’s smoke, most people probably have an exagerated view about any risks. Yet we all chose to go to smoky bars (and to drink poisonous spirits.) Our opinions and priorities haven’t changed, yet now the state tells us what to do.

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  11. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    wat >Yet we all chose to go to smoky bars

    No we didn’t.

    And we had the great ‘choice’ of smoky bars or stay at home and a limited social life.

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  12. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Who needs tobacco when cannabis is on tap?

    Why is there no excitement about smoking cannabis? Is it safe for your lungs and only fucks up your brain?

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  13. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    And what does that tell you Mary?

    Maybe there wasn’t a market for smoke free bars. But the good ole state changed that.

    The way you people celebrate when they take away rights baffles me.

    Kb’s own mr sensible has some weird ass views on property rights.

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  14. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    dime>The way you people celebrate when they take away rights baffles me.

    smoking in bars deprived me of my rights for years. what’s not to celebrate?

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  15. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    It wasn’t your bar! You were a guest.

    New law “Mary must sign her house over to dime”. What’s not to celebrate?

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  16. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    What does the defacto currency in prison become without cigarettes?

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  17. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    >It wasn’t your bar! You were a guest.

    i was a paying customer.
    or are you talking about your own personal establishment?

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  18. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    Mary,

    How many people stayed at home and had a limited social life because people smoked in bars?

    0.01%?

    And you had the choice, that’s the point: choice that you would deny everyone else.

    You were free to follow your own priorities. Nobody forced you to stay at home. Whereas you would force everyone else, with the threat of state violence, to comply with your preferences.

    If you don’t like smoky bars why don’t you open your own non-smoking one? No violence necessary.

    The lesson here is that, if we can get control of the state, we can simply get it to ban anything we don’t like.

    Just don’t complain when it bans choices you’d rather make for yourself.

    As the saying goes: “smoking – healthier than fascism.”

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  19. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    p.s.

    smoking in bars deprived me of my rights for years.

    Please explain what rights were being violated.

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  20. Other_Andy (2,676 comments) says:

    Pete George

    “And free people have a right to be free of other peope’s health threatening pollution.”

    Another great myth.

    In 1998 and 2003 came the results of by far the biggest studies of passive smoking ever carried out.
    One was conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation.

    http://www.data-yard.net/2/12/1440.pdf

    The other, run by Prof James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat for the American Cancer Society, was a mammoth 40-year-long study of 35,000 non-smokers living with smokers.

    In each case, when the sponsors saw the results they were horrified. The evidence inescapably showed that passive smoking posed no significant risk. This confirmed Sir Richard Doll’s own comment in 2001: “The effects of other people’s smoking in my presence is so small it doesn’t worry me’.

    In each case, the sponsors tried to suppress the results, which were only with difficulty made public (the fact that Enstrom and Kabat, both non-smokers, could only get their results published with help from the tobacco industry was inevitably used to discredit them, even though all their research had been financed by the anti-tobacco cancer charity).

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  21. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Fearmongers are inevitably wrong, no matter the subject.

    Some of the panicky idiots who predicted (hoped) for riots:

    The media. They’re always looking for a controversial angle on the most mundane of changes. They’ll hunt and they’ll find some media whore, self-promoting loser or just someone stupid until they find a conflicting opinion. They call this “balance”.

    From the Herald:
    Prisoner advocacy group, Sydney-based “Justice Action”. Its New Zealand-born co-ordinator Brett Collins: “Other than the possibility of inmates turning violent, Mr Collins predicted corruption among prison staff who would smuggle in cigarettes to boost their incomes.

    “Prison officer Steve Burrows has vivid recollections of when they tried to ban smoking inside Brisbane’s rebuilt Woodford Correctional Centre.
    “That didn’t work, that jail burnt down. It was severely damaged by rioting and fire.” ”

    From Red Alert:
    Richard Shaw: “In the immortal words of the Kaiser Chiefs “I predict a riot” but seriously I do. What percentage of inmates have mental illness, drugs and alcohol problems? I grew up around someone with a significant mental illness and tobacco was a very important and central part of there daily routine and purpose.”

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  22. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    wat – all i was doing was taking issue with your original assertion that ‘we all chose to go to smoky bars’.

    The ‘choice’ was stay at home or to endure others’ (to me and the majority of the population these days) unpleasant habits.
    Which was a stinking choice. Literally if you chose the latter.

    Who knows how many chose to stay home? Anyone ever do a survey?

    Now it’s swung the other way.
    But no one is forcing you to stay home either: just to last a short while without smoking.

    the right not to have my hair and clothes stinking like an ashtray, for one.

    Should I be allowed to wear my hair loose if I worked in food preparation? Should I be allowed to take my dogs into New World?
    Let off stink bombs in your bar?

    ..and I have things to do so I’m out of here

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  23. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    I generally find the company of smokers more interesting, and bars were a lot more interesting to visit when smoking was allowed in them.

    Nowadays, all the interesting people stay at home and bars are filled with boring wowsers like Mary Rose.

    Do I have a right not to put up with fascist busybodies?

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  24. Andrei (2,652 comments) says:

    Of course this nico facism is a prototype for controlling whatever aspect of peoples lives the elites choose.

    Already Denmark, a dairying country has a “fat” tax to reduce peoples consumption of butter and bacon.

    Western people are getting stupider and stupider by the day as they allow ninnies to dictate what they can and can’t do

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  25. bc (1,367 comments) says:

    As I was reading DPF’s post, I was thinking that the only objections I remembered from having smoke-free prisons came from the regulars on this site. A quick read of the comments so far confirms my recollection!
    How can a smoke-free environment be anything but a good idea?

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  26. mara (784 comments) says:

    BlairM. Spot on. The Mary Roses of this world are just plain boring and don’t even know it.

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  27. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    When I saw that last “Excellent” at the end of the story I got a vision of Mr Burns….

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  28. wiseowl (895 comments) says:

    @ Another andy 11.07
    This is similar to the research being used to ban fires around the country.All councils have been told that 300 people die a year from breathing polluted air from fires and car emmissions.
    They are slowly banning fires but don’t want to ban cars and yet cars are by far spewing out a cocktail of emissions.
    No-one has questioned the research or the figures and councillors tow the line and stop naughty people from keeping warm in the winter.
    It’s another myth I suggest.

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  29. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    As a trial it has worked well and there should now be no reason not to ban them for everyone.

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  30. Pete George (23,562 comments) says:

    Bar owners have the freedom to close up here and go and open a bar in a country that still allows smoking in bars.

    There seems to be no shortage of bars, bar owners and bar patrons. Banning smoking in bars doesn’t seem to have ruined the bar business.

    Same for banning smoking in workplaces. When I worked in a factory I was effectively excluded from using the lunch room because of the smokers catching up on their addictions. We developed a prototype air cleaner and trialled it in the lunchroom, it could barely cope with the amount of filth in the air.

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  31. wat dabney (3,756 comments) says:

    But no one is forcing you to stay home either: just to last a short while without smoking.

    It’s not my rights being violated; it is the property rights of the bar owner.

    I don’t smoke. I have never been a smoker. I didn’t like the smoky atmosphere any more than you. But I recognise that it was my free choice to visit other people’s private property under those conditions.

    the right not to have my hair and clothes stinking like an ashtray, for one.

    Of course, there is no such right. Other people’s freedoms didn’t produce an outcome which you were happy with, so you threaten them with violence to behave in ways which you find more acceptable.
    You had the choice of opening a non-smoking bar, yet you instead found it so much easier to simply coerce others via the mechanism of the state.

    Should I be allowed to wear my hair loose if I worked in food preparation?

    The odd hair in someone’s food is not a health issue, it’s just that we find it gross. It is in the business’s interest to stop it from happening, and if you work for them you must abide by their rules.

    …Should I be allowed to take my dogs into New World?

    That’s really up to New World, isn’t it.

    If someone chooses to visit a smoky jazz bar and get slowly drunk on spirits whilst listening to great music then that is entirely a matter for them. But in New Zealand now the bar is non-smoking and they are not allowed to serve you if, god forbid, you might be drunk. This clinical, vice-free, state-controlled world you are creating is everything that the totalitarianisms of the last century could have dreamed of.

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  32. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Well said Wat……Mary and Pete are clueless real rights and the basics of a free society. Too much busybody fascism in their makeup it seems.

    Bar owners have the freedom to close up here and go and open a bar in a country that still allows smoking in bars.

    And Women who don’t want to be raped should get sex changes I assume by Mr Georges logic….?

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  33. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    I reckon it all went to hell when women were allowed the “right ” to drink in the public bar instead of where they belonged back in the snug. Remember it tended to be women at the forefront of the temperance movement too. They want it every which way.

    “Equality” whatever the hell that is.

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  34. Kunta Kinte (4 comments) says:

    Wat – couldn’t have said it better myself.

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  35. Keeping Stock (10,340 comments) says:

    Here’s one of the shark-jumpers DPF; TVNZ:

    Prisoners have turned to nicotine patches as a means to get their fix ahead of a smoking ban.
    From tomorrow, tobacco and lighters will become contraband at New Zealand prisons – a rule which is expected to affect seven out of ten inmates.
    ONE News understands prison officers fear inmates will play up and cause problems in the country’s jails when the ban comes into effect.
    A former prison support volunteer, Rose Vailima, has warned the smoking ban will spark an uproar in prisons.
    “There will be inmates rising up against other people, they’ll be taking officers as hostages for things,” she said.
    “I haven’t met one officer that’s not fearful what this will bring, wishing it wasn’t going to happen and fearing that some of them will be hurt.”

    A former Rimutaka prisoner, whose conviction was later thrown out, said he has spoken to friends who are still behind bars.
    “I hear tension is running high .
    “They’re saying they’re going to rebel, and that’s all prisoners can do…they can only gang together and make a point and they’ll make a point when they can.”

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/tension-running-high-ahead-prison-smoking-ban-4278956

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  36. Johnboy (16,554 comments) says:

    Watch towers with mounted machine guns and a remotely controlled gassing system should solve all the problems really.

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  37. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “Bar owners have the freedom to close up here and go and open a bar in a country that still allows smoking in bars.”

    FFS Pete. I hope you never make it to parliament.

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  38. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    No chance of that dime. But it’d be funny to see him, unable to decide whether to go through the Ayes door or the Noes door…

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  39. Martin Gibson (246 comments) says:

    “I recall the predictions of riots and violence. I really should look up who was making those predictions, so that when they opine in future on prison policy, we can take this into account.”

    We should do the same thing with the folks who tell us what the weather is going to be in 100 years and want to legislate and tax on the basis of those hunches.

    I think trying to make smoking bans a nanny state issue is over-egging the pudding, especially on a thread on smoking bans in prisons. I’m thankful every single day that I got out of that trap, and curse that I ever fell into it.

    This was my call when the change was announced in 2010 and most other journos were writing about impending riots:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Ssoc82M_WGwJ:www.gisborneherald.co.nz/article/%3Fid%3D18099+martin+gibson+inmates+death+sentence&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

    Hat tip to “Alan Carr’s easyway to stop smoking” for getting me free.

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