NT hails success of prison smoking ban

The only Australian jurisdiction to totally ban tobacco in prisons, the Northern Territory government has hailed the first six months of the ban as a success, with other states following suit.

The ban has been accepted by inmates and staff as a positive health initiative, said Correctional Services Minister John Elferink.

He said a one-year educational campaign preceded the July 1 ban, which saw the territory become the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce a comprehensive ban on tobacco and tobacco-related products in the corrections system.

Prisoners were offered nicotine replacement therapy and unrestricted access to the QUIT line.

“We want to protect and improve the health of our staff and those who are sent to us by the courts,” Minister Elferink said.

“I’m sure those states including New South Wales and South Australia that are following in the territory’s footsteps will be heartened by the success we have achieved here.”

Encouraging people to maintain their smoke-free status after release is crucial for real health benefits to be achieved, said Kathy Sadler, CEO of Cancer Council NT.

“In the territory lung cancer is over-represented due to our high rates of smoking, and smoking rates amongst prisoners was extreme,” she said.

“There are immediate health benefits as soon as a person quits smoking, which leads to a much greater quality of life.”

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