Unsurprising Prison Smoking Ban Riots


A RIOT broke out at Cumbria’s only prison when a peaceful protest about a tobacco ban turned ugly.

Police are investigating the incident at HMP Haverigg which was only resolved when specialist riot cops were called in.

Cells were flooded, while sinks and TVs were trashed after it was announced to inmates that tobacco would no longer be sold, The Mirror has reported.

Damage is understood to have run into the hundreds of thousands according to prison sources.


Elite anti-riot officers have been deployed to Birmingham prison tonight to reports inmates have overrun one of its wings.

Unconfirmed reports say one wing at the Category B jail has been “lost” after trouble flared this afternoon.

G4S, the firm that runs the prison, and the Ministry of Justice confirmed they were dealing with an “incident” contained to one wing but no further details were immediately available.

It is unclear if there have been any injuries in the disturbance but authorities said there is no risk to the public.

On Twitter, a West Midlands based criminology lecturer claimed the prison’s Wing A was “severely damaged” as inmates were heard chanting “we want burn” – which is prison slang for tobacco.

The Independent reported the Birmingham prison riot, without mentioning the cause: the smoking bans which are gradually being introduced in UK prisons.

Chris Snowdon has a good piece on it: Send ASH To Prison.

There is no better way of predicting the future than listening to what Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have to say and preparing for the exact opposite. Whether they are claiming that high taxes don’t cause smuggling, or that smoking bans are good for pubs, or that it makes economic sense for shopkeepers to stop selling cigarettes, the truth can invariably be found by turning their statements at an angle of 180 degrees.

So when prison officers saw this in 2015, they should have been reaching for the tear gas…

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health, said there was no evidence to support claims that depriving prisoners of tobacco could lead to riots.

He cites a 2015 article by the abhorrent toad Deborah Arnott in (of all places) New Scientist, which begins:

A letter from a non-smoking prisoner with lung cancer, distraught because he was forced to share his cell with smokers, convinced me that smoking in prisons is an issue of human rights. If anything, more so than in public places such as pubs and bars because prisoners have no choice about whether to be there or not.

This opening passage tells us rather a lot about the Toad’s thought processes. She will select just one letter from a single “distraught” prisoner on which to base her conviction of the need for a prison smoking ban, damn the rest of the prisoners.

Why should the rights of this single prisoner apparently outweigh the rights of the other 80% of smoking prisoners to something prisoners have enjoyed until now?

(I’m a little puzzled, incidentally, why this prisoner should be “distraught” about sharing his cell with smokers. Does their smoking make his lung cancer worse? Are there studies that have shown this happens? If he’s going to be distraught about anything, shouldn’t it be about having lung cancer? And if she’s going to base her entire case on a single letter, shouldn’t we be allowed to read it?)

The bulk of the rest of the New Scientist article is devoted to downplaying the likelihood of riots in prisons when smoking bans are introduced (and which are now happening). It ends:

The cultural change that has taken place everywhere else in society needs to be extended to prisons so that inmates and staff no longer have to put up with the harm caused by second-hand smoke. After it happens, just as with pubs and bars going smoke-free, we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about.

There has no more been a “cultural change” in society than there is a “cultural change” going on in prisons. In both cases, the law is being is being used as a blunt instrument to change people’s behaviour. And in the latter case, actual real blunt instruments are being used to enforce this behaviour.

Real cultural changes take place as people gradually change their minds about matters of concern to them. e.g. smoking, climate change, the EU. Often this is the result of prolonged debate. At any one point in time there are usually people on both sides. And at any one time there is a majority on one side or the other.  But this natural process of cultural change ends as soon as one opinion or other becomes enshrined in law. The UK smoking ban of 2007 marked the point when a natural process was frozen in stone, and the rights of the 20% minority of smokers were entirely crushed by an appeal to the rights of the 80% majority of non-smokers.

By rights, in prisons where 80% of prisoners are smokers, their rights should carry far more weight than those of the 20% of non-smokers, and smoking should be allowed everywhere in prisons, in exactly the same way as it is prohibited everywhere outside them.

Nor is there any “need” to extend a cultural change that has taken place in one part of society to another part of society where it has not. In the UK, in a slow natural process of cultural change, the 80% of smokers who used to outnumber the 20% of non-smokers 60 or 70 years ago have been replaced today by 80% non-smokers and 20% smokers. But this cultural change has not also taken place in prisons, where prisoners remain 80% smokers, 20% non-smokers. Why should prison populations be forced to conform to cultural changes that have taken place outside their walls? Why should anyone be forced to conform?

Nor is it the case, “just as with pubs and bars”, that “we’ll all wonder what the fuss is about,” for this assumes that we’re “all” of one mind on the matter, when this is almost invariably never the case. We are only “all” of one mind if we choose to close our ears to dissenting opinions. We are only “all” of one mind about the UK smoking ban if we count only the opinions of the 80% of non-smokers, and ignore the 20% of smokers. And Deborah Arnott can only manage to be “convinced” of the need for prison smoking bans if she only counts the complaint of a single non-smoking prisoner while ignoring the opinions of the remaining 99.99% of prisoners (who are now quite properly enraged at the smoking ban that totalitarians like her have foisted on them).

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19 Responses to Unsurprising Prison Smoking Ban Riots

  1. Rose says:

    Prisoner wins landmark ruling to ban smoking in jail
    5 Mar 2015

    “Paul Black, who is held at HMP Wymott in Lancashire, says he suffers from a range of health problems made worse by second-hand smoke”
    “The judge rejected Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s argument that the 2006 Health Act, which makes smoking a criminal offence in enclosed public places and workplaces, does not “bind the Crown” and does not apply in state prisons.

    Mr Justice Singh, sitting in London, declared: “In my judgment it is clear from the terms of the 2006 Act…that the intention of Parliament was indeed that it should apply to all public places and workplaces which fell within its scope, including those for which the Crown is responsible.”

    Deborah Arnott’s article in New Scientist was published on the 23rd of July 2015

    The Justice Secretary appeals

    Smoking ban could risk staff and inmate safety at state-run prisons like Dartmoor, claims Government
    February 15, 2016

    “Justice Secretary Michael Gove is challenging a High Court declaration that the legal ban on smoking in public places applies to state prisons and all Crown premises in England and Wales.”
    “The ruling blocking Crown immunity was won by sex offender Paul Black, an inmate at HMP Wymott in Lancashire, who has been serving an indeterminate sentence since 2009.”

    “James Eadie QC, representing the Justice Secretary, on Monday asked three appeal judges – Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Lord Justice David Richards – to strike down the High Court’s “unsustainable” decision.
    Mr Eadie argued that no statute binds the Crown unless that statue expressly states that it does, or it is a “necessary implication” of the legislation. The Health Act did not expressly state, and there was no implication.”
    http: //www.plymouthherald.co.uk/Smoking-ban-risk-staff-inmate-safety-state-run/story-28738021-detail/story.html
    No longer available

    Prison smoking ban overturned by court of appeal
    Tuesday 8 March 2016

    “The court of appeal ruling is a defeat for Paul Black, a sex offender who is an inmate at HMP Wymott in Lancashire. He has been serving an indeterminate sentence since 2009 and won a high court ruling last year in favour of a compulsory legal smoking ban on health grounds. ”

    “A Prison Service spokesperson said: “The result of this appeal means we are able to roll out smoke-free prisons in a safe and secure way. While the Health Act 2006 will not legally bind the crown properties, including prisons, the smoking ban will be implemented as a matter of policy.
    “Our careful approach will ensure staff and prisoners are no longer exposed to secondhand smoke, while not compromising the safety and security of our prisons.”

    “Responding to the decision, Sean Humber, head of human rights at the law firm Leigh Day, which represented Black, said: “The court of appeal’s judgment is disappointing as it denies non-smoking prisoners and prison staff the same legal protection from the dangers posed by secondhand smoke as the rest of us.”

    “Given that our client’s case was successful in the high court, we are now discussing an appeal to the supreme court with our client.”
    https: //www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/08/prison-smoking-ban-overturned-by-court-of-appeal

    Supreme court to consider appeal to enforce smoking ban in UK jails
    Monday 20 March 2017

    “The appeal has been brought by Paul Black, a prisoner at HMP Wymott, on the basis of fresh evidence from a Ministry of Justice medical report on air quality behind bars which warns that “secondhand smoke harms everyone”.
    “Black, who has heart problems, lost his claim at the court of appeal in March 2016. Government lawyers argued at the time that a blanket ban on smoking in public-sector prisons could cause discipline problems and risk the safety of staff and prisoners. The judges ruled that state, as opposed to private, prisons enjoyed crown immunity from the health regulations.”

    “The supreme court has given permission for Black’s appeal to be heard in October. An air quality report by Prof John Britton of the University of Nottingham’s centre for tobacco and alcohol studies, published by the MoJ after the last hearing, warned that: “Even the smallest amount of exposure to secondhand smoke carries a reasonable probability of injury.”

    Scheduled for the Supreme Court on 31st October and 1st November 2017.

    • Rose says:

      The study in question

      Second-hand smoke in four English prisons: an air quality monitoring study
      Lead author John Britton
      12 October 2015

      “To measure levels of indoor pollution in relation to smoking in four English prisons.”

      “TSI SidePak AM510 Personal Aerosol Monitors were used to measure concentrations of particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) for periods of up to 9 h in selected smoking and non-smoking areas, and personal exposure monitoring of prison staff during a work shift, in four prisons.”

      “PM2.5 data were collected for average periods of 6.5 h from 48 locations on 25 wing landings where smoking was permitted in cells, on 5 non-smoking wings, 13 prisoner cells, and personal monitoring of 22 staff members. Arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentrations were significantly higher on smoking than non-smoking wing landings (43.9 μg/m3 and 5.9 μg/m3 respectively, p < 0.001) and in smoking than non-smoking cells (226.2 μg/m3 and 17.0 μg/m3 respectively, p < 0.001). Staff members wore monitors for an average of 4.18 h, during which they were exposed to arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentration of 23.5 μg/m3."

      "The concentration of PM2.5 pollution in smoking areas of prisons are extremely high. Smoking in prisons therefore represents a significant health hazard to prisoners and staff members."

    • Joe L. says:

      What does it say about our current society when the voices of millions of smokers who have never committed a crime in their lives are ignored when smoking bans are passed quietly in the dead of night while our justice systems will waste time and taxpayers’ money to hear the case of a single convicted sex offender who is already living completely off of our taxes simply because he doesn’t like the smell of tobacco smoke?

  2. Rose says:

    Interestingly, there was another attempt the year before Black’s, but it didn’t get quite so far.

    Rapist who shared prison cell with smoker for just ONE week launches legal battle because he says it breached HIS human rights (costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds)
    13 March 2014

    “The publicly-funded case against prison operator G4S and the Ministry of Justice was dismissed at the High Court – but he then appealed the decision.
    Yesterday, this was also thrown out by three senior judges at the Court of Appeal. Mr Justice Mostyn said: ‘We do not think this appeal gets off the ground – we are not impressed.’

    “Smith, of Hanley, Staffordshire, launched a legal battle from behind bars using taxpayers’ cash – because he could not afford his own costs – to try to claim compensation from the Government.”

  3. Rose says:

    Just a thought.

    If the Government use Stanton Glantz’ latest study in evidence it might well help their case.

    The Shady Link Between Big Tobacco and Nicotine Gum

    “This represents a new narrative opening up. The story now is that Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT – gums, patches, etc.) are not very effective and this somehow the fault of the tobacco industry, rather than the pharmaceutical industry.

    Stanton Glantz – for it is he – jumped the shark a long time ago so I am reluctant to say that this is a turning point for him. Nevertheless, this is quite a pivot. Not only does he say that NRT doesn’t work, he says that it keeps people smoking.”

  4. Don’t other people also feel that cognitive dissonance?

    Each time a terrorists attack, the public outrage is overwhelming. Rightfully so. They try to disrupt our societies. And it works to some extent. They induce fear and distrust. It also invokes heavy handed “security” measures.

    But they are bloody amateurs. Compare their feeble results with all the individual suffering and social disruptions caused by the Carerorists! Where is the outrage? Who protects us from the havoc they wreak on society as a whole and many segments of the population?


  5. garyk30 says:

    “The concentration of PM2.5 pollution in smoking areas of prisons are extremely high. Smoking in prisons therefore represents a significant health hazard to prisoners and staff members.”

    There would be a significant health hazard only if they had shown that such levels were above the point at which negative effects happen.

    At no time was any mention made of the level of exposure necessary to cause harm.

    • Jonathan bagley says:

      Yes, when smoke levels in smoky pubs have monitored using these devices, four hours a day is equivalent to around ten cigs ayear. The highest the anti smoking industry could get it was three cigs a week.

    • Rose says:

      Presumably because there isn’t one, Gary.

      Parliamentary questions
      19 June 2008

      WRITTEN QUESTION by Godfrey Bloom (IND/DEM) to the Commission

      Subject: Environmental tobacco smoke E-3520/2008

      “According to the Commission Green Paper ‘Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level’ (COM(2007)0027), more than ‘79 000 adults’ die in the EU per annum from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
      This claim is the driver behind the proposals by the Commission to bring in a binding directive later this year to enforce smoking bans in workplaces.
      Given that the impact of such a directive will be considerable, both economically and socially, could the Commission please name three or four people who have died from ETS within the European Union in the last two years?”
      http: //www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+WQ+E-2008-3520+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

      Parliamentary questions
      18 July 2008
      Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission

      “The Green Paper ‘Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level’(1), refers to the estimates of mortality attributable to passive smoking in the EU reported by Smoke-free Partnership in Lifting the Smoke-screen: 10 reasons for a smoke-free Europe(2). These estimates are based on the international evidence on the level of risk posed by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and the estimated proportion of the population exposed rather than individual cases of deaths due to passive smoking.
      The nature of the epidemiological evidence on all risk factors, be they chemical or other, is such that it does not allow to identify the victims at individual level but only populations.”

      (2)Jamrozik K., ‘An estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking in Europe’

      Which is remarkably similar to this –

      HSE 2006 OC 255/15

      “The evidential link between individual circumstances of exposure to risk in exempted premises will be hard to establish. In essence, HSE cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to SHS to the raised risk of contracting specific diseases and it is therefore difficult to prove health-related breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act”

      • Roobeedoo2 says:

        ‘The nature of the epidemiological evidence on all risk factors, be they chemical or other, is such that it does not allow to identify the victims at individual level but only populations.’

        That says it all: No real physical evidence can be provided.

      • Tony says:

        “The nature of the epidemiological evidence on all risk factors, be they chemical or other, is such that it does not allow to identify the victims at individual level but only populations.”
        The closing clause is false.

        It is mathematically impossible to attribute deaths based on ‘risk factors’, even at population level. This is true regardless of the number or complexity of formulas used. Hand waving cannot help even if there are lots of hands. Here is a very simple yet rigorous proof. No expertise or talent is required to understand it. It is easy for anyone to read and understand: http://www.freedom2choose.org.uk/2013/07/alice-wonderland-world-risk-factors/

        I have often read that the SAMMEC model does this. If true then it is a fraud.

        P. S. Full marks to Godfrey Bloom for the question though. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

  6. Smoking Lamp says:

    ASH and their functionaries once again have lied about the effects of second hans smoke. As always the deny evidence that does not fit their ideological agenda and promulgate propaganda to further their goal of prohibition through the persecution of smokers.

  7. Rose says:

    It wasn’t even secondhand smoke

    Second-hand smoke in four English prisons: an air quality monitoring study

    “We used PM 2.5 concentration as a marker for SHS,[11, 12], since direct measurement of tobacco-specific toxins in the atmosphere is expensive and sampling methods would be impractical in prison settings.
    SHS is not the only source of indoor PM2.5, which includes particulate matter released from sources such as open fires,toasters and microwaves.

    However, where toasters and microwaves were present on the wings, every effort was
    made to place the SidePak monitors as far away from these as possible. We carried out much of our sampling during the summer months when natural ventilation to the wings and cells through open windows and doors would have been greater than during the winter months,potentially causing our findings to underestimate average pollution levels over the longer term.”

    No major roads running past these prisons?

    “Safe locations for the SidePak monitors were limited, but we tried to collect data from a broad selection of settings.
    Since we were obliged to answer questions from staff members and prisoners who enquired about the monitoring, our whilst it is possible that prisoners or staff changed the measurements were not carried out blind.

    However,whilst it is possible that prisoners or staff changed behaviour in response to being monitored, we think that is unlikely to have occurred to any appreciable degree over the course of our measurements.”

    We’ve discussed this before

    Prison bosses braced for lawsuits from ex-lags after report warns of passive smoking dangers
    5 MAR 2016

    ” A new secret report into the dangers of passive smoking in prisons is set to spark compensation claims by LAGS – running into millions of pounds.
    Murders, rapists and paedophiles who were non-smokers in jail will be “lining up” for huge paydays – with costs met by taxpayers.

    Prison bosses have repeatedly stalled over publishing full details of the report by a top professor – and have even been threatened with High Court action if they fail to do so.
    It is estimated one in five prisoners are non-smokers – meaning 17,000 of the around 85,000 currently locked up.

    The report has come to “devastating” conclusions over health risks, sources say.
    It follows research carried out last year when air monitors were installed in four jails.
    A source said: “The full report deals solely with the medical side of second hand smoking.

    “It has never been published in full. It appears this is damning and devastating stuff. Once the report is published, former inmates will be lining up to lodge claims.”

    “A source added: “This report will be published in due course. We will continue to robustly defend claims made against the Prison Service, and have successfully defended two thirds of prisoner claims over the last three years.”

    garyk30 says:
    March 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    “Staff members wore monitors for an average of 4.18 h, during which they were exposed to arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentration of 23.5 μg/m3.”

    Even in California, that is not a hazardous level.
    1 mg = 1,000 ug
    10 mg = 10,000 ug and that is 425 times higher than the 23.5 ug measured.

    https: //www.osha.gov/dts/chemicalsampling/data/CH_259640.html
    Exposure Limits
    CAL/OSHA PELs(permissible exposure level average for 8 hours)
    10 mg/m3

    10mg = 10,000 ug

  8. jaxthefirst says:

    “ … public places such as pubs and bars because prisoners have no choice about whether to be there or not.”

    Interesting last sentence, too. After all, wasn’t their “justification” for imposing the ban in pubs and bars (and, indeed, all workplaces) the fact that the poor little enslaved employees had “no choice” but to be there??

    • Rose says:

      It’s all gibberish, just a means to an end.
      The bottom line is that British TC wants to ban smoking in prisons.
      While John Britton and co. only measured indoor air pollution with the windows open as it was supposedly too expensive to measure tobacco smoke accurately.

      “We used PM 2.5 concentration as a marker for SHS,[11, 12], since direct measurement of tobacco-specific toxins in the atmosphere is expensive..”

      The Oak Ridge National Laboratory did it properly.

      Exposures to second-hand smoke lower than believed, ORNL study finds

      “The study, which involved 173 people employed at restaurants or taverns of varying sizes in the Knoxville area, concluded that exposures to respirable suspended particulate matter (RSP), for example, were considerably below limits established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the workplace.

      Subjects, who were non-smokers, wore pumps that sampled the air they were breathing while at work for a minimum of four hours. Researchers recorded a maximum RSP level of 768 micrograms per cubic meter. The OSHA standard for RSP is 5,000 micrograms per cubic meter over eight hours. Samples from the subjects were analyzed for ultraviolet absorbing and fluorescing particulate matter, solanesol, 3-ethenyl pyridine, nicotine and RSP.”

      ASH Board of Trustees

      “Professor Britton is Professor of Epidemiology and Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at Nottingham University, and is a consultant in respiratory medicine at Nottingham City Hospital. He is Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, and chairs the Royal College of Physicians tobacco advisory group.”

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        So once again evidence that a small ideological cult has set the agenda by producing propaganda in the guise of objective studies. If a tobacco company did this they would be broadcasting their outrage far and wide. yet when they do it, all is well. I guess they have to protect their grift. Tobacco control lies must be exposed for the scam they are.

  9. Ewan clay says:

    They implemented this smoking ban purposefully in order to instigate situations that justifies the government’s next moves

  10. Pingback: More on Smoking in Prisons | Frank Davis

  11. Pingback: The Truth Is Whatever They Want It To Be | Frank Davis

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