Sweden could ban smoking in prison

Swedish prisoners could soon be forced to go without one of the traditional indulgences of life behind bars: cigarettes.

“The whole of the prison system should be smoke-free,” the director general of the Swedish Prison Service, Lars Nylén, has told Folkbladet.

According to the newspaper the vast majority of those held in Sweden’s prisons and other secure units are smokers. Indeed, statistics show that almost 95% of prisoners smoke – compared to less than 20% of men in general.

But now the authorities are working to change the situation for the country’s 7,000 prisoners, as well as the 8,000 people employed in the prison service. A working committee has been set up to implement a non-smoking policy.

At open prisons it is relatively simple to give inmates the option of going outside to smoke. But it is rather harder at the top security prisons such as Kumla and Hall.

There it will be almost impossible to create a completely non-smoking environment, says the prison service’s project leader Jeanette Tano.

She also said that there are certain risks to banning smoking in jails.

“To take cigarettes away from the clients could stir up reactions which could end up as violent or threatening situations,” she told Folkbladet.

“So a dialogue with the clients and building trust is of great importance.”

A law introduced in June 2005 prevents clients – of the sort who can take their business elsewhere – of Sweden’s bars, restaurants and clubs from smoking on the premises.

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TT/The Local