Six completely voluntary smokefree units are currently in operation, (one at Otago Corrections Facility, one at Manawatu Prison, one at Rimutaka Prison, one at Invercargill Prison and two at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility), with many more sites looking to implement them over the next two months. The units consist of non-smokers, ex-smokers and those wishing to give up the habit.
“Prisons are having no trouble filling these smokefree units which is a great indication that prisoners are getting on board with the change and taking positive steps towards improving their health,” says acting General Manager Prison Services, Dr Brendan Anstiss.
“The implementation of smokefree prisons will reduce the risk of fires in prison, as well as having health benefits for prisoners and staff.
“A number of positive initiatives are already well underway within our prisons,” Dr Anstiss says.
Colin Ropiha, Custodial Systems Manager at Otago Corrections Facility, says the prisoners in the smokefree unit have been very positive and supportive of one another. “The prisoners are more relaxed, and staff are enjoying working in a smoke free environment,” he says.
Manawatu Prison was the first Prison to introduce a voluntary smokefree unit of 38 prisoners in October last year. The unit has been full since then.
Additional activities are being put in place to assist prisoners with the challenges of giving up smoking, including sports events, exercise initiatives and cultural activities. Prisoners are also being supported by Health Services staff, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and access to the Quitline 0800 number. Since the ban was announced, more than 2,000 prisoners have started NRT.