Smoking was banned in Estonian prisons beginning Sunday, Oct. 1, and according to the Ministry of Justice, the ban has not led to any noteworthy incidents.
Spokespeople for the Ministry of Justice told BNS that implementing a full ban on smoking went calmly and no serious incidents involving the smoking ban have been reported.
According to ministry spokespeople, as of 2010, inmates could not be in possession of tobacco products. Cigarettes and other tobacco products were held by prison staff and inmates were allowed to smoke up to three cigarettes per day, and only in the outdoor exercise area.
"Smoking has been strongly restricted in prisons for seven years already," they noted. "Thus, only newly arrived inmates can have a strong addiction to tobacco, not the longer-term inmates." According to the spokespeople, restrictions set in place in 2010, including on smoking indoors, were psychologically more difficult.
Ministry spokespeople said that prisons are offering incentive programs and counseling as well as nicotine patches and other cessation tools to inmates interested in quitting smoking. For example, quitters will receive free rooms for longer meetings, better sporting facilities as well as fruit.
The smoking ban that entered into effect on Sunday includes both inmates as well as all other persons in the prisons.
Before now, smoking had been allowed in the exercise area and was limited to up to three cigarettes per day. According to the new regulations, it will be forbidden to bring smokable tobacco products to prison, the Ministry of Justice said.
A number of countries have implemented full bans on smoking in their prisons. For example, smoking has been completely banned for years in some British prisons, U.S. federal prisons and a number of U.S. state prisons. A full smoking ban is also in force in Canadian federal prisons, Australia and New Zealand.
A number of EU countries have also adopted significant restrictions on smoking in prisons.
Editor: Aili Vahtla