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A Stint in the Lockup could end your Habit

If you are a criminal whose nefarious deeds are conducted in certain areas of the UK, you could be in luck. A stay in the slammer could end your cigarette habit and perhaps save your life!

In 2007 the Prison Officers' Association of the UK announced its intention to ban the smoking of tobacco in British prisons, nationwide. Officials were concerned that staff were “forced to suffer the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.”

Currently, prisoners are allowed to smoke in their cells, but not in common areas or exercise yards. Still, 80% of inmates in British prisons smoke cigarettes.

Last year, the prison Les Nicolles on the bilingual crown property, the Isle of Guernsey, banned tobacco. “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.” And e-cigarettes too, it would appear.

(Guernsey, famous in the rest of the world for its unique breed of cows, is not part of the United Kingdom as such, but is owned by Her Majesty, so its status is not unlike that of Guam or Puerto Rico for the USA. The cows seem contented with that arrangement.)

A similar scheme was successfully tried on the Isle of Man, a crown dependency in the Irish Sea (home of those cats with no tails called Manx cats). The cats think it's cool, reports indicate.

Similar projects are also underway in the US states of Illinois and Louisiana, where proceeds from e-cig sales are used to fund enhancement of recreational facilities for inmates.

Like any idea whose time has come, the project has moved to the mainland. “We are looking into whether disposable e-cigarettes are suitable for use in prisons and are currently conducting a trial in three prisons,” announced a Prison Service spokesperson.

Three UK prisons have instituted the measure. In Gloucestershire, the Eastwood Park women's prison has placed e-cigs in the prison shop, and men's facilities, Preston Prison in Lancashire and Stocken Prison in Rutland, have done the same. Within one week, 50 vapourisers were sold across the two men's facilities.

“Anything that could protect not only staff but other prisoners and visitors from second-hand smoke inhalation is obviously welcomed,” says a spokesperson for the Prison Governors' Association.

“We will be watching this trial with interest to see just how successful it is,” he told the BBC, as reported by Emily Kent for the Daily Mail.