All New Zealand prisons will be smokefree within a year.
The Government has announced a total ban on smoking to take effect from 1 July 2011. The ban also extends to lighters and matches.
There will be a year-long campaign to help prisoners quit smoking, including an education programme and access to patches and nicotine replacements.
At present prisoners are allowed to smoke in their cells and in designated outside areas.
But the Corrections Minister, Judith Collins, says about two-thirds of prisoners smoke, which results in a serious health risk to inmates and staff.
And she says also banning matches and lighters will make prisons safer, because they are currently used to melt toothbrushes and plastic utensils and turn them into weapons, as well as to light toilet paper which is then thrown at guards.
Ms Collins says the Government may yet face lawsuits from staff and inmates objecting to being exposed to secondhand smoke.
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