In Scotland, inmates in prison can no longer smoke cigarettes while incarcerated, however, they can vape and the Scottish Prisoner Service (SPS) has endorsed their use by providing over 7,500 vape kits to prisoners since the country’s nationwide ban on smoking cigarettes in prison went into effect last November.
At this point, SPS has already spent over $174,000 AUD on vape kits for prisoners and expects to spend well over $250,000 AUD providing vapes to inmates.
Tom Fox, the spokesman for SPS, called the scheme to provide inmates with vapes “a very positive step” and “money well spent.” Fox noted the “health benefits” for both staff and inmates while indicating that the benefits “outweigh any initial cost” of introducing the program.
“It’s a very positive step for the well-being of the people in our care and the people who work for us. I think it’s money well spent. The health benefits for our staff and those in our care greatly outweigh any initial cost we have introducing the program.”
One inmate, speaking to BBC Scotland from HMP Edinburgh, indicated that she believed that without the vapes, “there would have been all sorts of trouble” in the aftermath of the country’s prison smoking ban.
In the United Kingdom, vaping enjoys ongoing endorsement from Public Health England (PHE), which found vaping to likely be dramatically less harmful than smoking based on the currently available evidence.
Professor John Newton, PHE’s director of health improvement, said that smokers need to be reassured that “switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking.”
“We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking. This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk.”
By demonstration, Professor Newton was referring to an experiment in which researchers showed the difference between the black tar left behind by cigarettes and the trace residue left behind by vaping. He called it “tragic” if smokers who could quit with the help of e-cigs were “put off due to false fears about safety.”
“It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about safety.”