You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Prison smoking ban pays off: Collins

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016

Smoking was banned in prisons five years ago to the day, and since then arson incidents have decreased dramatically.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says tobacco, matches and lighters became unauthorised items on July 1, 2011.

"Prior to the ban around two-thirds of the prison population, or 5700 prisoners, were smokers - triple the rate of smoking in the community at the time," she said on Friday.

"I visited prisons when smoking was permitted in cells and the environment was awful for prison staff."

Ms Collins says prisoners used matches and lighters to set fire to balls of toilet paper and throw them at staff, or cause significant damage to prison property by burning bedding and other items.

"Since matches and lighters were banned, fires and arson incidents have significantly decreased, from 76 in 2010/11 to four in 2014/15," she said.

"Looking back, it's hard to believe that there was a time when smoking was ever permitted in prisons."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon