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Mark Fairhurst - Acting National Chair:
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Steve Gillan – General Secretary:
Mobile 07971 838590

Glyn Travis - Press Officer:
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POA Press Office:
020 8803 0255 Option 7

POA Press Releases

PR 110 30 Sep 2015

Smoke-free prisons victory for POA after 8 year campaign

 The Prison Officers Association (POA) is citing a ‘victory for health and safety’ following the Government announcement that all prisons in Wales and four in the South West of England will become smoke-free by 2016.
 
“The POA has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban smoking in prisons – for the benefit of our members, the UK’s hard-working prison officers – since the legislation to ban smoking in public places was banned in 2007,” said Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the POA.
 
“Today’s announcement is welcome but is long overdue. It is a surprising turn around given consistent opposition from the majority of the prison estate when we have tried to engage them on this crucial health and safety matter.”
 
Passive (or ‘second hand’) smoke increases a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer by 20-30% and pulmonary heart disease by 25-35%. In the UK, it is estimated that over 10,000 deaths a year are caused by exposure to second-hand smoke (Source: Action on Smoking and Health).
 
Smoking in communal areas in prisons has been restricted in recent years however prisoners have still been entitled to smoke in their cells – regardless of whether their cell mate(s) were also smokers and with no regard to whether the prison officers they dealt with were smokers or not. This lack of consistency and repeated unwelcome exposure has meant that exposure to second-hand smoke is a key public health issue in UK prisons.
 
“This is a crucial victory for health and safety in the workplace for prison officers. Prison officers have been denied the basic protections from second-hand smoke that other workers have had for almost a decade,” said PJ McParlin, National Chairman of the POA.
 
“We have repeatedly raised at every level of the prison service our members unnecessary exposure to a known health risk and now at last vital workplace protection is to be set in place.”
 
The POA is calling on the Ministry of Justice and Public Health England to work with them to ensure that prisoners in pilot prisons are provided with appropriate Nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation support and to commit to appropriate staffing levels during the roll out in order to ensure the operational safety of prisoners and prison officers alike during the change.

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