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UK's Ministry of Justice Allows Prisoners To Vape Behind Bars

UK's Ministry of Justice Allows Prisoners To Vape Behind Bars


UK's Ministry of Justice Allows Prisoners To Vape Behind Bars

Did you know that ‘no smoke’ is actually a prison slang term that has nothing to do with smoking? It means: “To follow staff’s orders without resisting or causing any problems.”


Turns out, the UK Ministry of Justice’s decision to permit vaping in prison cells will likely lead to more prisoners feeling the ‘no smoke’ vibe. The UK decided to greenlight prisoner vaping this June after a smoking ban last year that sparked riots in several prisons.


Vaping has now become wildly popular in UK prisons with more than 33,000 prisoners getting their nicotine fix through e-cigarettes and a total of 65,000 refill and e-cigarettes sales in jails weekly. Prisoners have to buy flavored liquid for their vapes, after all, and jail shops have been doing a roaring trade for the past couple of months.


Vaping in prison

“All closed prisons in England and Wales are now smoke-free reducing the risk of second-hand smoke to prisoners and staff,”a Prison Service spokesperson told Metro.co.uk. Secondhand smoke has been one of the primary concerns with smoking in public areas, but hasn’t been approached for institutional settings like prisons.


Recently in the U.K., smoking rates in general have been declining, and the U.K. has some of the friendliest laws for vaping and vape products in the world, so the efforts to incorporate them as a less harmful option in the clink shouldn’t come as a surprise.


“Prisoners have been given support in quitting smoking if they need it including vapes, e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy,” said the Prison Service spokesperson.




“After the smoking ban, there were instances of prisoners cutting up nicotine patches and smoking them with bible pages, tea leaves or banana skins as well as widespread disturbances by lags ‘craving a burn’.”

Oh...not so nice. To add to that, an estimated 80 percent of the UK’s total 70,000 prison population smokes and assaults on prisoners and staff rocketed after the ban.

As a result, the Ministry of Justice approved a test project in Welsh prisons which proved successful (surprise) and was then implemented in other jails in the UK.

The results have been unanimously positive, noted by one particular inmate who was released from Derbyshire’s Foston Hall Prison in June. “I could not have done my two month sentence without my vape. I saw how bad it was when the smoking ban came in last year and when I had to go in I was dreading craving a burn,” he said.


“However, I got a vaping machine and it made my sentence a lot easier.”

In light of this, we hope that these results lead to a more open discussion on vaping laws and regulations for prisons and correctional facilities in the future, leading to a true ‘no-smoke’ zone behind bars for inmates and officers.

That discussion is particularly welcome here in the US, where a patchwork of local, state, and federal laws allows smoking in some prisons while it's banned in others. Vape regulations are so convoluted a sheriff in Tennessee wound up facing criminal charges himself for illegally profiting from the legal ambiguity surrounding vapor products in the domestic incarceration environment.