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What Is Really to Be Gained From Banning Smoking in Prison?

01/08/2015 18:21 BST | Updated 31/07/2016 10:59 BST

If Britain introduces a smoking ban in its prisons it can expect exactly what happened in New Zealand prisons following the ban being introduced there in July 2011.

  • A massive, at least 150% increase, in violence in prisons, including prisoner on staff and inmate or inmate assaults.
  • Riots and loss of control in prisons from time to time.
  • A loss of morale among prisoners encompassing unwillingness to participate in rehabilitation programmes that are essential to reduce reoffending on release.
  • Staff losing an important stress/tension relieving tool that has been proven time and time again to relieve stress and tension, not to mention playing an important part in alleviating the sheer monotony and boredom of daily prison life.
  • An increase in suicides as vulnerable prisoners lose hope, slide into misery unrelieved by a smoke, and take their lives.

All of this for no real benefits. As happened here (in New Zealand), British policymakers will no doubt contend the "health benefits" of a smoking ban will outweigh any disadvantages. Nicotine withdrawal equates to and can be worse than that of cold turkey heroin withdrawal.

Before Britain joins the tiny minority of countries who impose a national ban on prisoners smoking you want to closely consider the above points, and ask yourselves what is really to be gained for inflicting undoubted misery (and I have no doubt loss of life) on your prisoners and guards.

And don't be fooled by the propaganda coming out of New Zealand Corrections, no doubt according to them the smoking ban has been a "great success" - that's garbage.

You should also ask some of your long serving prison guards what they think of a ban - but don't do it when they might suffer retaliation from their political masters, or you won't get the truth. I've no doubt they would unanimously oppose a ban, they know what the real effects of a ban will be - listen to them.

It only remains to add that the New Zealand High Court, in 'Taylor versus the Attorney General', that "enforcing prisoners into nicotine withdrawal is not humane". So if you initiate a ban expect condemnation from the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. Britain is a signatory to and has ratified the ICCPR (International Convention on Civil and Political Rights) which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners. I currently have a case awaiting hearing before that committee against New Zealand.

Arthur Taylor is a career criminal with over 150 convictions and a current maximum-security inmate in New Zealand. He is also a successful jailhouse litigant and won a landmark case ruling a smoking ban imposed in the nations' prisons was "unlawful".