UK Government announces a ban on smoking in all prisons in Wales and four in south-west England from 2016.

The Government today announced a smoke-free policy will be implemented in all prisons in Wales - Cardiff, Parc, Swansea and Usk/Prescoed - from January 2016.

It also said that four English prisons - Exeter, Channings Wood, Dartmoor and Erlestoke - will also go smoke free from March 2016 in the first stage of a plan to make all prisons smoke free.

Sean Humber a prison lawyer at Leigh Day who represents a number of non-smoking prisoners concerned at their enforced exposure to cigarette smoke in prison, stated:

“This decision represents a long overdue recognition by the Government of its legal obligation to protect the health of both non-smoking prisoners and prison staff by ensuring that they can live and work in a healthy environment.  

“We believe that the ban on smoking in all Welsh prisons in January 2016 is almost certainly as a result of the legal action we brought on behalf of our non-smoking client, based at HMP Parc in Bridgend, which highlighted that the different Regulations in Wales do not currently allow smoking in prisons at all.  A view confirmed by the Welsh Government.

“These changes in England are also a recognition of the results from scientific monitoring, commissioned by the Government and published today, on second hand smoke (SHS) levels in prisons which confirmed that non-smoking prisoners and prison staff are currently being exposed to significant levels of cigarette smoke.

“In light of these findings, the report specifically recommended that the Government “should consider implementing measures to further reduce or eliminate SHS within the prison estate.”

“Leigh Day had previously requested the results of this monitoring in a Freedom of Information Request.  The Government had refused this request.

“The different legal position in Wales and the results of the latest monitoring of second hand smoke levels in prisons made the Government’s announcement almost inevitable. 

“In light of these monitoring results, which indicate that prison staff and non-smokers are currently being exposed to potentially unhealthy levels of cigarette smoke, it seems likely that the remaining prisons in England will need to go smoke free soon after these first four”.