Taxpayers in the state of South Australia will pay for nicotine substitutes for prisoners as the state moves to make its jails smoke-free, according to a story by Rebecca Puddy at abc.net.au.
The Department for Correctional Services has estimated that 80 percent of South Australia’s 2,800 prisoner-population comprises smokers, with 75 percent smoking daily.
Under the current smoking rules, prisoners can buy their own cigarettes and tobacco from canteens.
A $2 million bill for nicotine patches and lozenges will form part of the $6.2 million cost to taxpayers of keeping cigarettes out of the state’s prisons in the years to 2022, with additional funding set aside for health and security measures, staff costs and quit support.
The smoking ban has received bipartisan support and strong backing from Cancer Council SA and the Public Service Association, the union representing the state’s prison guards.
Under the current structure, SA Health pays for NRT in prisons that have not enacted a smoking ban but will hand over this cost to the Department for Correctional Services when the ban is introduced at the end of the year.
Under the rules to be introduced as prisons become smoke-free, taxpayers will foot the bill for the first six weeks of a nicotine replacement program, with prisoners required to pay one quarter of the cost for the next three weeks, and 50 percent of the cost for the final three weeks.
Cancer Council SA spokeswoman Alana Sparrow said the Government had worked with stakeholders to develop a “good evidence-based approach”, learning from the experiences of other states.
“We have looked at evaluations in different states and territories – in some it has worked extremely well but we are also learning from the experiences in other states like Victoria,” she said.
A 2018 study of former prisoners in Queensland found 94 percent relapsed to smoking within two months of their release, with 72 percent doing so on the day of their release