‘Tempers will flare’ as prison smoking ban takes effect, inmate says

MONTREAL (CBC) – The first stage of a widespread smoking ban has been rolled out in federal prisons, and inmates say they fear it will put prisoners on edge.

Starting Monday, smoking was banned on all property at maximum-security prisons, including the yards. This rule essentially means prisoners will not be allowed to smoke at all while serving time, as there will be nowhere for them to light up.

 

On May 20, the smoking ban will be extended to medium-security facilities, and at minimum-security facilities on June 2.

 

Robert Pallagi, a non-smoker in jail for attempted murder, said there could be unrest when the large number of smokers at Canada’s prisons are forced to butt out, and all of them are suddenly coping with nicotine withdrawal.

 

Inmates are said to be three times more likely to smoke than other Canadians.

 

“A lot of people are pissed off about this,” said Pallagi, who is serving a seven-year sentence at the medium-security Archambault penitentiary in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, east of Montreal.

 

“These people are in jail, and if they’re easily upset, this is not going to help. Tempers will flare.”

 

‘I’ve always wanted to stop smoking’

 

Fellow Archambault inmate Dale Tremblay said he is looking forward to the opportunity to quit smoking, even though he doesn’t appreciate the fact that he has no choice in the matter.

 

“For myself, I’ve always wanted to stop smoking, so this is a perfect opportunity, but I couldn’t say that for everybody. Not everybody thinks that way,” said Tremblay, serving eight years for gangsterism and attempted murder.

 

He said he’s prepared himself by cutting back to 10 cigarettes a day, but others have not readied themselves.

 

“Guys are going to be short-fused,” he said. “It’s going to hit them, it’s going to hit them hard.”

 

He said he suspects some prisoners will not be able to kick the habit, and cigarettes will become a new contraband item, smuggled into jails and smoked illegally, just as marijuana is.

 

“Dope is banned forever, and dope comes inside sometimes, so I don’t see why tobacco wouldn’t make it here,” he said.

 

Prisons spend $1M on non-smoking tools

 

The ban is being implemented to protect prisoners, staff and visitors from exposure to second-hand smoke. The new rules expand on a partial ban implemented in January 2006, which made it against the rules to smoke in cells and other indoor areas at federal prisons.

 

Lyle Stewart, an official with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said that while some resistance is expected, prison guards have been given a year to prepare for the ban and work out plans to tackle any problems.

 

He praised Correctional Service of Canada for providing federal prisons with a $1-million budget to offer prisoners counselling, therapies, and non-smoking tools like nicotine gum and patches.

He said prison guards will have to adhere to the no-smoking rules. Guards will only be able to smoke if they leave the prison grounds.

source; http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/cbc/080505/canada/canada_prison_smoke

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