Creating a Smoke Free Prison Environment



The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has announced its intention for all prisons in Scotland to be smoke free by the end of 2018.

In 2013 the Scottish Government published their tobacco control strategy, ‘Creating a Tobacco-free Generation’, in which it was recognised that creating a smoke-free Prison Service was a key step in achieving a smoke free generation.

The move to smoke free prisons has been further informed by a large scale Tobacco in Prisons Study (TIPS), led by the University of Glasgow. As part of this study, input on Second Hand Smoke measurement has been provided by the University of Aberdeen. The report being launched represents the most comprehensive study in the world of prison workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke. TIPS will help SPS and partners plan how we move to a smoke free prison environment. 


Speaking at the launch of the report into second-hand tobacco smoke, which revealed that there were high levels of second hand smoke present in a number of Scottish prisons, Colin McConnell, Chief Executive of SPS said:

“This report is a call to action. It is not acceptable that those in our care and those who work in our prisons should be exposed to second hand smoke.

We have already put measures in place to reduce this risk by insisting that prisoners close their cell doors when they are smoking, thereby reducing the exposure of that smoke to others. We have also modified our daily working practices to reduce this secondary exposure.

However, the fact remains that the only way to remove this risk is to remove smoking from our prisons so I am today committing the SPS to achieving a smoke free prison estate by the end of 2018.This will be a significant challenge. The percentage of people who smoke in prisons is much higher than the community at large.

I fully understand how difficult it will be for many in our care to give up smoking - that is why we are committed to working alongside our partners in the NHS to provide every support possible to assist them."


SPS will be working with partner agencies to develop a wide range of supports and interventions to assist those in prison to give up smoking. The sale of tobacco in prisons will cease in 2018 and the SPS will seek to make changes to the Prison Rules to make smoking in Scotland’s prisons illegal.


Commenting on these proposals, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson, said.

“Second-hand smoke poses an unacceptably high risk to the health of prisoners, staff and visitors.

There are very high rates of smoking among those in custody.  The staff working in Scotland’s prisons should be afforded the same protection as people working in other professions.

Last week I launched our Vision and Priorities for Justice, which included a clear commitment to improve health and wellbeing in justice settings.  Smoke-free prisons will play an important part in achieving thatbenefiting staff and prisoners, as well as the children and families to whom most individuals will return on release.”


The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, added:

Smoking remains the biggest single cause of preventable ill-health and premature death in Scotland.

We have taken wide-ranging action to address this, from our campaigns to take smoking right outside, to measures on tobacco advertising and packaging. 

I endorse this important step by SPS which will contribute towards our ambition of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.”

Attachment :Second Hand Smoke in Prisons