Vaping is now used as a tool to help prisoners quit smoking. Despite all the controversies vaping has gained among different critics and health organizations, the negative claims are proven otherwise. In Scotland, prisoners who smoke will be offered free vaping kits for the preparation of the jails to go tobacco-free in the autumn season. This is program initiative aims to help inmates quit smoking which will cost around £200,000. Last year, there were already plans banning tobacco in jails due to the health risks associated with passive smoking. Starting November, vaping kits or vape devices will be issued before the onset of the smoking ban. For two months, the vaping kits will be free. After which, vape products will be sold at a discounted price until April next year. The normal price of vapes will take place after April.
Proposed Smoking Ban in Scotland
Why was this ban proposed in the first place? A large proportion of inmates in Scotland are smokers and the percentage is even higher than in the overall population. Almost 70% of inmates are smokers with female inmates reaching as high as 95%, which is very alarming. The SPS holds the highest number of smokers in the society. Almost 80% of the prisoners say they smoke as compared to 20% of the national average. In 2006, smoking was prohibited in enclosed spaces in Scotland including workplaces and public areas. However, this smoking ban did not apply to jails. Up to this moment, inmates are allowed to smoke inside the cells and outside spaces. That’s why the Scottish Prison Service or SPS have announced the major plan to make jails completely smoke-free last summer. This decision was influenced by a major study about tobacco use in jails which revealed increased exposure to second-hand smoke.
The spokesman of SPS, Tom Fox, mentioned that inmates should quit smoking. Nobody will be allowed to smoke in prison in Scotland after November 30. While people living in the community can still smoke in some areas, the people under the care of SPS won’t be allowed to smoke at all. There were concerned raised about the smoking ban but this is not new anymore because there have been similar bans introduced in different places in England. According to Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, the cost should also be considered when offering some transitional help for prisoners. That is why free vaping kits will be offered to inmates to better prepare them for the smoke-free prison this autumn.
Free Rechargeable Vaping Devices to Be Given
The SPS recognizes the difficult journey of heavy-smokers during the transition so they are giving an option for inmates to take free rechargeable vaping devices or RVD. The distribution of free RVD introductory pack will help smokers to break the deep-seated habits and save money in the long run. The best option will always be encouraging complete smoking cessation and zero nicotine consumption. The RVDs will greatly help inmates to cope with withdrawal effects without having an access to tobacco while they are with the SPS custody.
Information dissemination will be conducted to inmates and options available will be explained to help them quit smoking and better cope with a smoke-free environment. Starting November 30, all tobacco products and related items will be prohibited so anyone caught smoking in prison will be considered committing criminal offenses. The free vaping kits consist of 3 cartridges and a vaping device. Again, it will be free until mid-January which will be sold at a discounted rate until June and the full price kicks in thereafter.
Why Smoking Rates are High in Prisons
Smoking rates are very high among prisoners which is two to four times the rate of the general population in different studies internationally. Inmates are considered themselves as belonging to disadvantaged communities with high rates of substance abuse and mental health problems. For countries without smoking bans in prison, tobacco smoking is considered as a social norm. Prisoners smoke as a way to deal with their isolation and boredom and to cope with stress. Smoking cessation services can be tough in prisons because of the low motivation of smokers to quit, the transient nature of prison stays and smoking cessation as a lower health priority.
There is clear evidence directly linking prisoner smoking and cancer. Those inmates who are exposed to secondhand smoke also experience impacts on their health. The highest levels of second-hand smoke reported within prisons include the United States, Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland. Several jurisdictions have introduced partial or total smoking bans in prisons because of the growing health concern of prisoners and also the staff.
Gauging the Success of a Prison Smoking Ban
Evidence suggests that the success of any prison smoking ban highly depends on the support provided by the prison staff, careful preparation and proper communication with prisoners and prison staff, and the provision of tobacco cessation support. While assessment and intervention should be carefully carried out by prison guards and authorities, it is a good idea to also incorporate prison health education concerning the ill effects of smoking and how vapes can help them quit smoking.
Through increased awareness and understanding about vaping, a prisoner is given an option so as not to give up the bad habit abruptly. Last year, the smoking ban in the UK sparked riots in prisons. Vaping has become instantly popular with 65,000 refill and vapes sales in prions every week. Yes, there is a real impact of the smoking ban but on a negative note in the UK. It’s a good thing that vape products are now available as an alternative provided by the Ministry of Justice after the riot incidents.
How Vaping Can Help Prisoners Quit Smoking
Because of the availability of vapes and e-liquids, all closed prisons in Wales and England are now smoke-free which reduce the risks of secondhand smoke to inmates and staff. The prisoners are supported in quitting smoking with the help of e-cigarettes, vapes, and nicotine replacement therapy. With the enforcement of the smoking ban, some prisoners were caught smoking using bible pages, banana skins, and tea leaves. There were increased assaults on staff and prisoners with the smoking ban.
One of the first prisons allowing vaping is HMP Cardiff. According to a Public Health England report, the Prison and Probation Service have agreed on using rechargeable vaping products in Wales available across the entire estate. This includes the Long-Term High Security and Women prison. According to one inmate who was released in Foston Hall Prison in Derbyshire, the smoking ban was really bad because of the cravings and withdrawal effects and vaping came to a rescue. Just upon the enforcement of the smoking ban, prisons were on a major chaos but vaping helped the authorities calm inmates and resort to a less harmful habit. It seemed entirely impossible to eliminate smoking without the negative impacts because inmates find smoking calming and a source of stress-reliever, so banning smoking definitely rocks their world.
E-liquids come with nicotine content or zero nicotine to help inmates eventually quit smoking. Many inmates cannot withstand their sentence without the help of tobacco smoking, and this is resolved with vaping. There are concerns about spices or drugs thrown into the machines, and this is strictly regulated by prison authorities to ensure a drug-free facility. Vaporizers, e-cigarettes, and other vape products are carefully checked to ensure that only vaping safe e-juices or e-liquids are allowed.
Stoptober to Promote Vaping Over Tobacco Smoking
There is a struggle in controlling the smoking situation in the prisons of the United Kingdom. Inmates are encouraged to take part in a program called Stoptober, giving them proper advice on smoking cessation. Stoptober has been organized by the UK National Health Service or NHS. This is a campaign encouraging smokers to stop smoking cigarettes for the month of October, to encourage them to finally stop smoking for good. This campaign offers several suggestions to tobacco smokers who are wishing to quit. NHS highly recommends the use of Nicotine Replacement Therapies or NRTs and behavioral support.
While e-cigarettes and vapes remained banned in many countries, vapes are now accepted as safer substitutes to tobacco cigarettes. Vape products have been made available and accessible in all prison shops in the UK to help prisoners quit smoking or resort to a less dangerous habit. Stoptober is an indirect way of promoting vaping in the UK. It is a very good campaign by the NHS to avoid depriving prisoners and even free citizens to enjoy smoking without a major impact on public health.
In Scotland, vaping kits will be made available to prisoners before the smoking ban. It is important to ensure that similar riots in the UK will be prevented. This course of action is positive both for the smoking prisoners and even for non-smokers who can benefit from vaping. Second-hand smoke is avoided and heavy-smokers have the opportunity to quit smoking once and for all. Indeed, vaping is the best alternative to tobacco smoking.