Our move to smoke free prisons has been informed by the success of the implementation of smoke free prisons in the Scottish Prison Service, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and the Isle of Mann Prison Service in recent years.
While we have a policy in place that restricts the areas within a prison where people in our care may smoke, thereby reducing the exposure of smoke to others. It is still not acceptable that those in our care and those who work in our prisons should be exposed to second hand smoke and this means removing smoking from our prisons.
This will be a significant challenge as the percentage of people who smoke in prisons is higher than the general community. I fully understand how difficult it will be for many in our care to give up smoking – that is why we are committed to working alongside our partners to provide every support possible to assist them. We are also conscious that this will have an impact on our staff and those from other agencies who are smokers and work within prisons.
We are launching a consultation today to seek your views on how and what we should do to implement smoke free prisons and what things we should take into consideration during the planning and implementation. I look forward to receiving your views on this important issue.
We are all working towards having a Northern Ireland where we enjoy long, healthy and active lives and I believe this is a significant milestone on that journey.