Wednesday, 7 October 2015

"I Can't Think Of A More Damaging Policy"

File this under "unintended consequences that the tobacco control industry couldn't give a toss about". Because they don't get paid to.

Via Prisoner Ben - someone who knows about what happens in prison thanks to 32 years' experience of it - here is an assessment of how well thought-through the impending prison smoking ban is (emphases mine).
[W]hen the national smoking ban was introduced several years ago, and smoking was restricted to cells in prison, procedures were put in place to address this concern. Staff were meant to give a heads-up shout to prisoners as staff were conducting daily cell-checks, so that prisoners could air out the cells. Just to be very clear on this point: procedures were put in place to address staff safety, but staff have never used these procedures. There is no need for any member of staff to enter a smoky cell – unless they allow it to happen. And they do. And in the face of this lazy whine, a total ban on smoking in prisons is planned.
So the ban is a solution to something which has already been solved. You can also bet a hefty amount that tobacco controllers were consulted on the measures above in the first place, so are fully aware that there is no risk of danger - even the mythical one they promote - to prison staff if they wish to avoid it.

Hmm, no mention of that in ASH's briefing paper on 'smokefree prisons'. Fancy that!

Ben continues ...
Unlike tobacco in the wider society, tobacco in prison plays a huge role in prisoners’ lives. Tobacco isn't merely a diversion. It is the default prisoner currency, the standard unit of trade that all other commodities are valued against. As such, banning it would have the same social effects as if Government suddenly banned the cash in your wallet or purse. Sans tobacco, some other substance will become the default currency and the only candidate is heroin.
Considering a prime justification for the ban is "the need to improve prisoner health", that's a huge step forward, quite obviously. Slow handclap for ASH and their chums at Public Health England, jolly well done!
With the current medium of exchange prohibited, waves of disruption will flow through the social structure. Those who "baroned" tobacco – burn, snout – will be worthless, their ability to calm a stressed prison gone. In their place will rise, to a more embedded level than currently, those who deal in the "powders". But tobacco barons have always been a stabiliser, a bank, a bureaux de change, with the flow of tobacco being largely consistent. Heroin, in contrast, leads to some prisoners wielding undue influence – "powder power" – but inconsistently. Supplies of drugs are far more uncertain and temporary, leaving the suppliers in a shaky socioeconomic position and as such as likely to prompt instability as anything else.
Instability, eh? Just what a prison environment needs. But it'll be a 'smokefree' instability, so that's all right then.
50,000 smokers deprived of their fix will be a fearsome thing.
In a prison? What could possibly go wrong?
Tobacco is also used by the Prison Service as an intelligence tool. Every Wing Manager has traditionally had a few packets of tobacco to hand, to dish out to the passing casual informers. This will now end. On a wider scale, by tracking tobacco purchases from the prison shop – the "canteen" – managers have been able to discern economic activity. This activity is often tied to broader prisoner activities and can highlight the wheelers and dealers. A non-smoker buying lots of tobacco is obviously "up to something"! Whether this oversight of prisoners’ economic activity has ever led to more substantial intelligence is unknown; what is known is that this source of intelligence will now cease.
Well done tobacco control industry. You've 'helped' the prisoners in a very meaningful way.
Banning tobacco, then, will have the key consequences of instantly dismantling economic structures which have stood for decades; will destabilise the social structure; reduce intelligence; tempt staff to smuggle; and throw social power into the corrosive and unstable hands of heroin dealers. 
I can't think of a more damaging policy.
Who cares? Tobacco control and Public Health England - who collectively sponge close to £1 billion per annum in taxpayer funding - have ticked a box and been paid for it. Why should they give a shit what happens once their lobbying bandwagon moves onto the 'next logical step' in justifying their hefty salaries at the public's teat?

In every measurable sense, we are at the stage where anti-smoking organisations do nothing but cause net harm with every dingbat policy they promote. And they do so for one reason and one reason only ... to enrich themselves. Why government is handing out our taxes to such toxic, anti-social and damaging troughers is anyone's guess. They need to be cut off without a penny, and soon, for the good of society and the public at large.

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