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Tuesday
Apr102018

Scotland's "barmy bid" to wean prisoners off cigarettes

Just back from a short post-Easter break.

Last year we went to Lisbon where it was warm and sunny. This year we split our time between Harrogate (wet) and Glasgow (cold).

I don't think I've missed very much, unless you count the introduction of the new sugar tax.

There's been a great deal of weeping 'n' wailing on social media but it's been a long time coming and the protests I read on social media were, as ever, too little too late.

The template for using tax as a form of social engineering was established a long time ago but the ennui that habitually greets the annual increase in tobacco duty has undoubtedly encouraged ministers to use the same tactics when battling obesity, regardless of whether it works.

In fact, I still don't think people get it. The tobacco template has proved so lucrative to the 'public health' industry it was inevitable they would use it on other products (and consumers).

Anyway, back to the day job.

I was contacted yesterday by a journalist from the Scottish Sun who sent me a copy of a survey that is being conducted by the Scottish Prison Service.

It invites prisoners to say whether they smoke and if they want to quit and then asks, 'What kind of things do you think would be helpful in your attempt to quit smoking?' Options include:

Jigsaws, stress balls, relaxation CDs, colouring books and pencils, word games, other (specify)

There are several more questions, including a couple about e-cigarettes, but the Sun was naturally more interested in the jigsaw/colouring book angle.

Invited to comment, I said:

"Smoking is one of the few pleasures many prisoners enjoy. That's why tobacco is an important currency in prison. It's laughable to think you can replace it with jigsaws or colouring books.

"Smoking is not a right but if inmates wish to smoke there should be areas where they can light up without the long arm of the nanny state denying them that small comfort.

"If, on the other hand, the plan is to treat them like children, don't be surprised if they behave like children."

A short report appeared in today's paper. It's not online but it began:

Cons could be given jigsaws and colouring books in a barmy bid to wean smokers off cigarettes.

Stress balls and relaxation CDs are also being considered by jail chiefs ahead of the smoking ban introduction in November.

My quote wasn't used but what the story indicates is that the Scottish Prison Service is aware that forcing smokers to quit isn't going to be easy and won't work unless you offer them a alternative.

I'm just not sure that jigsaws and colouring books are going to be a satisfactory replacement.

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Reader Comments (2)

Well once they commence with this programme just wait it will not be long until the riots and deaths occur and then of course it will not be because of the smoking ban it will be the fault of the perpetrators. I really do despair at the mind set of the people who are in charge they appear to be living in a bubble of their own opinions. The inmates may well be bad boys and girls but I thought this country of ours had moved on from persecution and torture to prisoners. Alas it appears not.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 14:36 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Kerr

If one wants to quit then all of those alternatives are fine and will help - but if one doesn't want to quit then there is nothing more patronising. All ecigs will do is remind them they can't smoke but keep them in touch with the promise that when they are free they can go back to their own choices. .

If I was in prison, the only freedoms that I could claim to be mine are ownership of my own body and mind. Taking those last two human rights from people will make them enraged and despondent so expect riots and suicides.

However, the reason the antismoker bullies forced this on prisons is because they know that no one gives a damn about prisoners' human rights. Who will be next?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 15:22 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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