Cigarettes and tobacco – used by about 75 per cent of prisoners – are now banned from the grounds of all the state’s correctional centres, including outdoor areas and visitor processing areas.
Prison staff are on alert for potential disruption from aggrieved inmates, following rioting by their interstate counterparts when Victoria introduced a smoking ban last month.
Prisoners will be encouraged to take part in sport, competitions and card playing as an alternative to smoking in an optimistic initiative from Corrective Services NSW.
A secret stash of tobacco hidden in a wall cavity was discovered at a Western Sydney prison last week, with staff estimating it could have had a black market value of more than $12,000 in the wake of the smoking ban.
Although Corrective Services NSW staff are not subject to the smoking ban, they won’t be permitted to light up in front of inmates nor while on duty.
Until now, inmates could purchase tobacco through the state prisons’ “buy-up” system. Nicotine patches are now being issued instead.
When The Weekly visited three prisons last year for a feature on life behind bars, most women took regular smoking breaks.
Last month, prisoners caused an estimated $12 million worth of damage by setting fires and smashing fixtures and infrastructure at the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Ravenhall in protest at a smoking ban.
Preparations for the NSW smoking ban began two years ago.