26 September 2023

Jail igniting a smoke-free environment

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The Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC) is in the process of going smoke-free, with corrections staff, detainees, and service providers invited to share their ideas on how to manage the transition.

Announced by the Minister for Corrections, Mick Gentleman, the recommendation to ban smoking at the AMC was made in the Blueprint for Change: A New Future for Custodial Services report, which was handed down to the ACT Government by an independent committee earlier this year.

“Detainees are not being asked to quit cold turkey,” Mr Gentleman said.

“Staff at the AMC will be supported to quit smoking if they wish to as they also won’t be able to smoke within the facility,” he said.

“Nicotine replacement therapies and a range of supports to help people cope with withdrawal symptoms will be available during the transition.”

Mr Gentleman said the transition was expected to take around 12 months.

He said the ACT was one of only two jurisdictions in the country that still permitted smoking in some correctional facilities, the other being Western Australia

“We are fortunate to be able to learn from the challenges other correctional facilities faced when they transitioned to being smoke-free,” the Minister said.

“This is an important step in the ACT Government’s work to improve custodial services and outcomes.”

Commissioner of ACT Correctional Services, (ACTCS) Ray Johnson said survey data collected from detainees in 2016 showed approximately 82 per cent of detainees smoked and 14 per cent first took up smoking when they were in detention.

“The survey results also showed that 60 per cent of respondents had tried to quit smoking while in detention, and 67 per cent indicated they would like to quit smoking,” Commissioner Johnson said.

The 39-page Blueprint for Change Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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