Editorial for 24 July: Prison smoking ban is timely

Smoking of legal tobacco products is being banned in
individual cells at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward and the Fairbank’s
facility for women.

Come September inmates won’t be able to roam the prison hallways
and grounds smoking cigarettes or cigars.

They will, though, have designated areas in which they can
light up.

The Cayman Islands has had its Tobacco Law since it came
into play on New Year’s Eve in 2009.

Before then, many restaurants and bars had already
implemented their own smoking bans.

Since then other restaurants, bars and businesses have
bought into the ban and enforce it, keeping smokers at least 10-feet away from
the establishment.

Contrary to some rumblings before the law was passed, most
businesses haven’t seen a drop in customers.

Those who have a stake in the prison system have been
meeting to set a policy to deal with inmates who smoke. Because they are
dealing with confined groups of individuals, they must ensure that human rights
are protected and smoking prisoners understand why the measures are being
taken.

We shudder when we think of the Honduras’ Comayagua jail
fire earlier this year when 360 inmates died. That fire was linked to a
discarded cigarette. It is believed that a prisoner simply fell asleep while
smoking.

Most of the injuries and deaths from the fire came about
because the prison was extremely overcrowded and chaos ensued. The prison
system in the Cayman Islands is also overcrowded.

Our prison system already does a good job of separating the
smokers from the nonsmokers, but there is only so much they can do with such
tight quarters and an abundance of prisoners.

This smoking ban at the prisons will also, we hope, help the
smokers kick the habit and come out of the system appreciating and adopting
healthier lifestyle options. Prison staff will also fall under the smoking ban
policy.

It is hoped that the prison system is smoke free by 2014. We
wish them luck.

 

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