Smoking Ban Takes Effect March 30th
A ban on smoking in all facilities, offices and vehicles owned by the city Department of Correction will go into effect on March 30, the department announced today.
The new policy, part of Mayor Michael Bloombergâ€™s sweeping ban on workplace smoking, applies to inmates, staffers and visitors, correction Commissioner Martin Horn said.
A four-week transition period will start in the beginning of March, during which time the number of cigarettes inmates can purchase at jail commissaries will be reduced.
Beginning March 30, tobacco products, lighters and matches will be contraband. The department said inmates found with them would be subject to discipline and visitors who smoke would be removed and could have visiting privileges restricted.
â€œWe donâ€™t anticipate any serious problemsâ€ with the transition to a smoke-free environment, department spokesman Tom Antenen said.
â€œThere are a number of jail and prison systems in the country that have been down this road.â€ The city has 14 jails, with an estimated 14,000 prisoners and 10,000 correction officers.
The ban follows a national trend that has seen 17 states forbid smoking in prison and another 31 introduce smoking restrictions.
A spokesman for the union representing the cityâ€™s correction officers said he didnâ€™t anticipate any problems enforcing the ban.
Spokesman Peter Benjaminson said the transitional period would be helpful.
The union and the department are in discussions, in consultation with the city Office of Labor Relations, over whether any outside areas will be designated as smoking areas for officers, Antenen said.
The department is also looking into smoking cessation programs for staff and inmates.
A ban in New York stateâ€™s prisons went into effect over an 18-month period beginning in 1999. Limits on smoking were gradually extended from general areas to sleeping areas and eventually to entire facilities.