On road towards smoke free prisons, fuelled by fruit and sudoku

Food at Tartu Prison in 2010.

PHOTO: Aldo Luud / Õhtuleht

This May, Estonian prisons entered a healthy living motivational programme to prepare inmates for November 1st when all prisons should be smoke free. 

As an example of the initiative, the non inmates can do more sports and eat larger amounts of fruit. In prison libraries, they are able to read literature on quitting. Counselling will be available.

As explained by justice ministry press rep Maria-Elisa Tuulik, the programmes vary somewhat depending on a prison. In Tartu Prison, non-smokers will get an extra 45–50 minutes a week to play ball and do gymnastics on bars. At supper time, they will be treated an apple, a pear or a banana.  

«The Tallinn Prison, however, will serve veggies or nuts or seeds instead of fruit, and instead of extra sports there will be health days and longer meetings at the prison’s expense,» added Ms Tuulik. That means that on certain conditions an inmate may invite a guest into a private room for 24 hours and will not have to pay for that. The cheapest room at Tallinn Prison is nearly €10.

Also, the Tallinn inmates will be able to do crosswords and sudoku, as well as read health magazines.   

In prison stores, healthy foods will be available in increased assortment.

Too early yet to talk about effectiveness of the campaign. However, in Tartu Prison, 470 inmates out of the total of 975 have joined the programme. «In Tartu Prison, 27 percent were non-smokers at the beginning of April. Now the percentage stands at 48. Though not all of these inmates may have smoked daily, to join the programme they will have to give it up altogether and they have no right to purchase cigarettes at the store,» said Ms Tuulik.

Starting April, justice ministry is circulating a prison internal procedure rules amendment bill to totally ban smoking in prisons.

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