On Tuesday 4 September, 4 papers were considered by Executive council.
One of these papers called for Her Majesty’s Prison to be granted an exemption from the Tobacco Control Ordinance 2011. The Chief of Police explained the case for an exemption. It had become apparent that the special circumstances of HM Prison, the physical structure of the building and the essential safety and security measures, make it impossible to apply the conditions required by the Tobacco Control Ordinance. It was noted too that in other jurisdictions prisons were exempt from similar legislation to control tobacco use and that here, as elsewhere; the matter could be dealt with by the Prison Rules and Regulations.
Peter Coll, Chief of Police stated “The new smoking legislation refers to places of work and people employed there and the spirit of the legislation as I understand it is to protect some employees for example in pubs, and then of course we have another issue where you’ve got a prison, where people are staying for quite a long period of time. Technically under the terms of the law, unless an exemption is granted, this could prove to be a strange set of circumstances where we would be breaking our own law, if we allowed them to smoke, so we can’t have that.”
Members of council agreed to grant the exemption. Coll continued, “This allows us to apply our own conditions but what I want to emphasise is that this decision doesn’t just give permission for prisoners, a right for them to smoke. It just allows us to permit their smoking in certain conditions.”
The physical structure of the HM prison also makes it difficult to abide by the Tobacco and Control Ordinance. “There are two separate sections to the prison. One part of the prison is where people who are under investigation for crimes and we have 24 hours to gather evidence together, that may result in them being charged; the other side of the prison is where people are serving their times, and one part of the prison is probably an okay place to smoke in, because the bars are open and the smoke can get away in an open environment. The other part is enclosed and so we wouldn’t be allowing people to smoke within the wooden structures.”
The Tobacco Control Ordinance was enforced on the 1 September and restricts smoking in public areas.