While there are those who argue that prisoners should see not being able to smoke as part and parcel of their incarceration it is clear that making inmates grumpier is not conducive to good working conditions for those holding the keys. This is an important consideration when one remembers that around 80% of the prison population classify themselves as smokers.
Following on from success adopting electronic cigarettes in a facility on the Isle of Man, e-cigs were made available to the prison population at Les Nicolles, Guernsey. Guernsey Prison governor Dave Matthews told the BBC the smoking ban at Les Nicolles jail had "gone very well" as a result.
A Prison Service spokesman told the BBC, ‘We are looking into whether disposable e-cigarettes are suitable for use in prisons and are currently conducting a trial in three prisons.’
Electronic cigarettes will now be available for purchase in the shops at Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, Preston Prison in Lancashire and Stocken in Rutland.
The Prison Officers association has been campaigning for a wholesale ban on smoking since 2007, since smoking bans were introduced across the UK to protect people in workplaces and enclosed public places, and welcomed the move.
"We have removed tobacco but also provided prisoners with some assistance to try and give up their nicotine habit through the form of patches and the use of Quitline. For those who have decided not to (quit smoking)," Dave Matthews said, "we have allowed them to purchase their own e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a much safer way than normal tobacco does".
Mark Johnson, chief executive of the charity User Voice, said in 2007: “We've got a serious problem the way we have the rates of reoffending, and they sort of come up with... a PR line about something as minute as smoking in cells.”
A spokesperson for the Prison Governors Association added: “Anything that could protect not only staff but other prisoners and visitors from second-hand smoke inhalation is obviously welcomed. We will be watching this trial with interest to see just how successful it is.”