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Smoking: behind bars OK, but in bars, no way

Smoking: behind bars OK, but in bars, no way

On April Fools Day 1997, less than a month after opening, Queensland's Woodford Correctional Centre, a multi million dollar state of art prison, was extensively damaged when inmates rioted.

Authorities attributed a combination of poor food quality, inadequate inmate employment opportunities and the smoking ban as the catalyst for the riot.

The Corrections Department immediately lifted the total smoking ban and subsequently, Woodford has been relatively trouble free.

Woodford, eight years after the riot, and neither food quality nor inmate employment opportunity has improved, clearly demonstrating the smoking ban alone, was reason for the riot.

Labour's Smokefree Environments Amendment Act prohibits hotel patrons from smoking in bars but at the same time allows inmates to smoke within prison cells.

Bars are indoor workplaces and the ban on smoking is to protect employees from the alleged health risks caused by exposure to second hand smoke.

Correctional officers enter prison cells as a part of their regular duties, effectively making all prison cells part of indoor workplaces and theoretically, not exempt from the existing smokefree legislation.

Government exempted prison cells from the smoking ban, citing cells were effectively, inmates homes, and inmates could not be denied the right to smoke in their own 'homes'.

"I doubt if 'denial of rights' was the true reasoning behind the ban exemption for prison cells", says WIN Party spokesperson Dave Clarke, "but if it was, then it's yet another example of a marshmallow government kow towing to the whims and wishes of criminals".

"I suggest the real motive behind the ban exemption was concern New Zealand prisons would experience Woodford's problems if the ban was introduced, again exposing a soft government unwilling to assert control over criminals, allowing instead, the tail to wag the dog".

"Inmates are convicted criminals, sentenced to imprisonment as punishment for offences, and that punishment is the loss of liberty and certain rights".

"Why then are they afforded the right of being permitted to smoke in an indoor workplace, when your law abiding, hard working, tax paying Kiwi is denied the same right?"

"Hotel patrons are forced to smoke outside in the cold but our prison population can puff away in the warmth and relative comfort of their cells".

"The ban is slowly but surely sending numerous hoteliers broke, law abiding small business owners complying with draconian smokefree legislation".

"They may try and save failing businesses by breaking the ban and allowing patrons to smoke but if caught, they face prosecution to the nth degree by a government showing more concerned over not hurting a criminals feelings than for the health and wellbeing of small business".

"Injustice is alive and well and living in New Zealand, having been granted permanent residency by a soft, socialist, politicly correct government".

"The time is right to elect a government prepared to strip injustice of its residency".


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