Why are prisons in Australia good

Meditating and praying as nicotine substitutes for inmates

It'll be a few more days to zero hour. But the police in the Australian state of New South Wales are preparing for the worst. Reaction forces stand ready to put down any signs of turmoil. A total smoking ban will be introduced in all prisons on Monday. 11,000 prisoners have to do without their Tschick from one day to the next. If you want, you can start an eight-week cure with nicotine patches at the taxpayer's expense. After that the prisoners only have to buy chewing gum containing nicotine.

Dream instead of smoking

The prison department, headed by Peter Severin, has drawn up a list of possible distractions if the nicotine desire becomes too great: Meditating, praying, bending the torso can help. "Writing to a loved one" is also helpful, or solving crossword puzzles. If that's not enough of a distraction, you can "dream of the future," according to the department. In New South Wales, three quarters of all prisoners smoke. Many of them have been addicted since their youth. The no to cigarettes also applies to prison guards. However, they can leave the institution to smoke.

"Torture" is what Brett Collins of Justice Action calls the ban on smoking for prisoners. The bank robber himself was behind bars for ten years. Today he stands up for the concerns of prisoners. Smoking is not just a "stress relief valve," he says. It is one of the few freedoms that you still have behind bars. Cigarettes are also an important currency in jail, said Collins. You use it to buy favors from other prisoners, respect, and even security.

Melbourne uprising

But the Australian authorities have little understanding for this. They enforce the ban with an iron hand. When the state of Victoria introduced the smoking ban in early July, there was a revolt in a prison in Melbourne. 300 inmates stormed the staff with homemade batons and set inventory on fire. It took 15 hours for the anti-terrorist units to regain control of the situation. In New South Wales one is therefore prepared for all eventualities, it is said on the part of the prison administration. There are no compromises, whatever happens - "the smoking ban will not be withdrawn," said Severin.

With a total smoking ban in prisons, Australia is cementing its reputation as a pioneer in the fight against tobacco use. The country made history in 2012 when it introduced the most restrictive laws on the sale of cigarettes. Since then, only generic packaging in gray without a company logo can be sold. To do this, the smoker looks at a photo of a cancerous lung and a death warning. The price of tobacco products has also increased dramatically. A pack of cigarettes costs the equivalent of up to 18 euros. Since the introduction of the measures, the number of smokers has decreased, say researchers.

Lawsuits from the tobacco companies

The tobacco industry wanted to prevent just such a situation. For years, companies like Philip Morris and British American Tobacco have taken the government's plans to court. They said that by banning trademarks such as the Camel Filter dromedary and brand logos such as the iconic Marlboro font, Australia is appropriating the brand names of the companies without corresponding compensation. But the industry failed with this argument in all instances. (Urs Wältin from Sydney, August 9, 2015)