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POA Press Office:
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POA Press Releases

PR 39 07 Feb 2012

Dangers of smoking in the workplace

The POA support the stance being taken by the Welsh Government in calling for a ban on smoking in cars, in order to protect children and non-smoking passengers. In November 2011 the BMA called for a ban on smoking in cars as the levels of toxins were 23 times higher than in a smoke filled bar. Following the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales, POA members continue to be exposed to second hand smoke, as prisoners can smoke in their cells.  Under current legislation a prisoner cell is classed as a “home”.

The POA provided clear evidence to NOMS and the Ministry of Justice of the harmful effect second hand smoke has on prison staff and prisoners. The Government to date have refused to make prisons smoke free workplaces in line with all other workplaces in the UK, or conduct independent monitoring of the prisons to establish the risks to health.

A survey conducted by Fresh North East concluded the following;

“The results from this small pilot study suggests that some prison officers could be exposed to considerable quantities of SHS during their work time. In one prison we found, non-smoking prison officers with cotinine levels close to the levels measured in bar workers before the legislation. There was some direct evidence that PM25 levels, as a marker of SHS concentrations, were high when prison officers entered the cells of inmates who smoked. Based on the available information provided to the IOM, it is currently not possible to make reasonable estimates of PM25 exposure of prison officers during typical work days. The salivary cotinine levels for prison officers in Frankland prison suggest that SHS exposure of some prison officers could be considerable. It is therefore not inconceivable that high SHS exposure can occur for prison officers in adult prisons in the United Kingdom. Further data collection is urgently required to provide accurate estimates of SHS exposure for prison officers, taking into account the smoking patterns of prisoners and work patterns of prison officers”.

The All Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health made no mention of prison staff when they launched the Governments Tobacco Control Plan and the academic review of the impact of the smoke free legislation that was implemented in England in 2007.  The review relied on evidence from the hospitality sector, in particular bar workers.

The POA calls upon Government to conduct a survey in all prisons as a matter of urgency, to protect staff and prisoners against the effects of second hand smoke.  The POA also reiterate their call for a complete ban on smoking in prisons.



For further information contact:

POA Press Office                                                                       020 8803 0255 Option 7