Big Stir Down Under

Posted 31st July 2015 by Dave Cross
Planet of the Vapes has covered the growing move to allow American and British prisoners to vape while serving time. The benefits are a more stable prison population and lower costs combined with a profit generating mechanism. Australia, with its backwards approach to electronic cigarettes, would rather their tax payers fund expensive and flawed NRT programs. The outcome has been all too predictable.

From their latest figures, Australia has seen a 10% rise in the number of inmates over the last twelve months. They are currently locking up an average of 194 people for every 100,000 in the adult population – rising to 904 individuals per 100,000 in the Northern Territory. The rate of increase shows no sign of abating and a key fact is that 84% of these inmates smoke.

The situation is being made worse by an increasingly ridiculous approach to, well, everything. Doctors have protested about being banned from speaking of any asylum seeker abuse and Doctor Attila Danko told the Global Forum for Nicotine conference: “Did you know, that in Australia, the possession of liquid nicotine/eliquid with nicotine in it for use in e-cigarettes, is punishable with the same penalties that apply to the possession of heroin?”

Last month, 84% of prisoners were banned from smoking. Violence erupted in many facilities and Ravenhall maximum-security prison, Melbourne, exploded in a full-scale riot. Even the usually close-minded Simon Chapman spoke out against the wholesale ban: “There’s no evidence that it’s harmful to anyone but the smoker in wide open spaces, so my view is smoking ought to be allowed in open areas.” Previous smoking bans in prisons have been linked with population unrest.

Ecigs have been embraced by Dave Matthews, governor of Guernsey prison.  His establishment has welcomed the sale of e-Burn cigalikes as they’ve been designed with a prison population in mind. The trial period was successful as prisoners paid for their own ecigs, earning a profit, while the prison saved money that would have been spent on NRT products and quit programs. The prisoners are happy, the guards are happy and the administration is better off.

Not so in Australia.

It is estimated that the cost of providing NRT products to prisoners will cost the Australian taxpayer over $2million a year, at $30 per pack of patches. Worse, it isn’t a solution; the patches are not being used as intended.

“They soak the patches in tea leaves and when they are dry they make cigarettes with whatever paper is around, even pages of the Bible, and smoke them. That’s what they have been doing for ages. They will get around anything,” said a former jail governor.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker