Smoke free prisons – a major moment for public health in Scotland
First published on 29 November 2018
We welcome the decision by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) to go smoke free from today. Smoking kills around one in five people in Scotland. It remains the most significant cause of preventable cancer. It contributes to much of Scotland’s cardio-vascular and pulmonary health problems, with people in poorer areas experiencing the greatest harm. On average, 21% of people in Scotland smoke, but in our poorest areas, it is much higher. Thirty five percent of people living in our poorest areas smoke (compared to 11% in richer areas) and they find it harder to give up once they’ve started. Smoking rates in prisons are four times higher than the general population.
NHS Health Scotland has worked with the SPS, the Scottish Government and local health boards to develop a specification for the support that will be in place to help people in custody manage in a smoke free environment.
Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science at NHS Health Scotland said:
“This is a big moment for public health. Smoking rates in prisons are much higher than they are outside, and the health of prisoners is often worse than others. We have to do everything we can to give everyone the best chance of living longer, healthier lives. Making prisons smoke free will improve the health of people who live and work there and because the people who are in prison often come from the poorest areas of Scotland, it will help reduce health inequalities too.
“A bold move for prisons but a necessary one that we know from the impact of the smoking in public places ban and from the experience of the 102 prisons elsewhere in the UK that have already done this, can be done, and works. Everyone has a right to live in a smoke free Scotland and this is one more step along the way to getting there.”
For more information on smoking and health inequalities, visit our smoking web pages.