Common Sense: Smokers

There has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not the Ministry of Justice will go ahead with their plan to ban smoking in all prisons by the end of this year.

In February one letter appeared in Inside Time from a prisoner complaining that he (a non-smoker) had been made to share a cell with a smoker. In the following issue a reply was featured from another prisoner asserting that you don’t come to prison for red carpet treatment and should just put up with it.

The common sense application here is simple, as always. We are actually in prison because we broke the law. We have all broken different laws, but we have all broken the law. One law says that smoking is not permitted in public spaces. So far, the Ministry of Justice has classified cells as private spaces in order to get around this, but this year that classification will change. What’s more, double cells and dormitories have never been classed as private spaces. It has always been the law that smokers and non-smokers cannot be expected to share a cell and it won’t be long before smoking in prison will be illegal altogether. Since this is a law, prison staff breaking it in order to force smokers and non-smokers to share a cell is not going to help those prisoners learn that the law should be obeyed, is it?

But more importantly, it is well established that passive smoking contributes to a variety of potentially fatal diseases and the idea that someone who has broken the law automatically deserves to have such diseases inflicted upon them is sadistic in the extreme. The fact that this assertion came from a prisoner is just all the more shocking.

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