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Prisons minister urged to amend prison smoking ban

Sun 19th August, 2018

Forest has urged the government to tackle the problem of drugs and violent assaults in England's prisons by amending the prison smoking ban and allowing designated smoking areas.
The call follows the announcement by prisons minister Rory Stewart that he will resign if the use of drugs and assaults do not fall in ten problem jails.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:
"Incidents of self-harm and assaults in prisons are at record levels and the use of illegal drugs is rife, yet the government insists on banning tobacco, a legal product.
"Allowing prisoners to smoke might actually help address the far more serious problems Rory Stewart is trying to solve."
Challenging the prisons minister – who in June tweeted, 'Delighted to confirm that we have just achieved one hundred per cent smoke free prisons' – to amend the ban on smoking in prisons, Clark said:
"By offering to resign if his programme of reforms doesn't succeed, Rory Stewart has shown himself to be an honourable politician. 
"But he also needs to be pragmatic and in the real world a substantial number of prisoners enjoy smoking. 
"No-one should be surprised that if you take away one of their few pleasures there will be negative consequences.
"We challenge Mr Stewart to test the theory by allowing designated smoking areas in half of the ten problem prisons he has chosen to target.
"He can then compare one set of prisons against the other to see if permitting smoking makes any difference to the problem of drugs and violent assaults."

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