Minister: Prison smoking ban not unconstitutional

Inside Viru Prison. (Postimees/Scanpix)
7/30/2015 9:30 AM
Category: Health

After the Chancellor or Justice said that a total ban on smoking in prisons violates personal freedom guaranteed by the constitution, Health and Labor Minister Rannar Vassiljev said the bill, planned to take effect in 2017, will go ahead.

“Of course we can have this discussion with the Chancellor of Justice, but the question whether smoking is a basic human right – that is debatable,” Vassiljev said on ERR radio.

He said banning smoking would cut tobacco consumption considerably.

Vassiljev added that the initiative came from the Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of prisons.

After the proposal was made to ban smoking in prisons, including for wardens and visitors, the Chancellor of Justice said smoking helps release stress in prisoners and keeps boredom away. Vassiljev said prisoners have access to sports and other stress-release methods.

A bill on smoking currently in the works would ban smoking in prisons and smoking areas, leaving only homes, designated smoking rooms and streets.

Around 75 percent of prisoners smoke, compared to the national average of 19 percent.

J.M. Laats

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