Corrections Dept: Corrections Department Director General Narat Sawettanan confirmed that his agency currently bans the sales of cigarettes and tobacco at all prisons across the country to reduce the number of inmates falling sick or dying from respiratory diseases.

He said that the regulation banning the sales of cigarettes and tobacco was required because prisons were regarded as state facilities and hence came within the target of the smoking ban. Once sent to jail, an inmate can use this as an opportunity to quit smoking and do other useful activities such as disciplinary training, vocational skill training or practicing meditation, he said.

The plan follows the successful pilot project that banned the sale of such products at 13 prisons in Amnat Charoen, Chon Buri, Chanthaburi, Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani Provincial Special Offenders Institution, Thonburi Women’s Correctional Institution, Sikhiu, Pathum Thani Correctional Institution for Young Offenders, Women’s Correctional Institution for Drug Addicted Prisoners, Songkhla Female Prison, Phitsanulok Female Prison, Chiang Rai and Maha Sarakham.

Narat said the ban had led to fewer inmates suffering from respiratory diseases and the eradication of a factor that was a threat to inmates already suffering from chronic illness such as high-blood pressure, and stroke, which could be worsened by being in a smoke-filled environment.

Prisons nationwide were said to have a higher ratio of smokers compared to other sites and secondhand smoke also posed harm to the health of non-smoking inmates and wardens. He said prisons had since 2008 arranged cells as no-smoking zones and set up smoking areas outside the building.