Great Britain is at the center of vaping news lately. In the month of June 2017, the UK prison administration made a decision that didn’t please inmates. From now on, smoking as well as vaping in prison would be formally forbidden.
Experts in the prison system warned that the decision might lead to more violence. Indeed, a pilot-program was carried out in 21 prisons throughout Great Britain last year. The experiment was inconclusive but it nonetheless raised worrying questions about prison safety in the event of a ban. Nonetheless, the ban officially took effect on August 31, 2017.
A ban that is offensive to inmates’ individual agency
At the beginning of the experiment, the smoking and vaping ban caused few issues, and there was only a subtle rise in violence in the first few days. But the prison world has to deal with problems of overcrowding and understaffing on a daily basis. Furthermore, inmates face a variety of issues, from depression to self-mutilation, and the new smoking and vaping ban has only exacerbated them. Inevitably, inmates who were forced to quit smoking only became more stressed.
For example, an anti-tobacco riot erupted in a prison in Birmingham on September 3. Other riots were reported in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdon, and in Wales. In 2016, riot squads had to intervene 40 times per month before putting an end to the riots and improve prisoner discipline.
United Kingdom prisons have had an overpopulation problem for years. Today, the situation has become dramatic. Certainly, a smoking and vaping ban is not the only reason for unrest, but it can only worsen the situation.