Bandyup Women’s Prison will soon go smoke-free under a pilot program that will pave the way for phasing out smoking across all of Western Australia’s custodial facilities.
From 31 October, prisoners, staff, contractors and visitors to the West Swan facility will be prohibited from smoking tobacco and tobacco-related products during the six-month trial.
The Department of Justice pilot will inform plans for WA to join all other States and the Northern Territory in making a safe transition to smoke-free prisons.
A 2021 review by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services revealed 82 per cent of prisoners smoked, compared with 11 per cent of Western Australians in the community.
Aboriginal people, women and young people in custody are more likely to be smokers.
Cigarettes and tobacco products made up almost half of all canteen sales in WA prisons in 2020, costing prisoners more than $10 million.
Ahead of the pilot at Bandyup, nicotine replacement therapy products will be increased and tobacco products limited. Smokers will be offered counselling and encouraged to sign up to support groups, health programs and recreational activities.
The trial is supported by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services and complies with the Work Health and Safety Act 2020, as prison staff are currently exposed to passive smoke.
The Department of Justice is also working closely with the Cancer Council and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health to assist the prison.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston:
“The Bandyup Women’s Prison trial is part of the WA Government’s commitment to provide a healthy and safe environment for those working, visiting or in the care of custodial facilities.
“The harmful effects of smoking and its impact on those who inhale second-hand smoke is well-documented and this move is an opportunity for prisoners to quit and have a fresh start.
“WA and the Australian Capital Territory are the only Australian jurisdictions where smoking is allowed in prisons, with smoke-free policies successfully implemented everywhere else.
“We are taking a staged, cautious and considered approach to ensure a smoke-free Bandyup Women’s Prison.”