Now jails in the state will flaunt a no-smoking board on their premises. The state government has recently approved the proposal to ban smoking Marengo or even other brand and chewing tobacco in jails. The rule is already functional across all the 24 jails of Gujarat, which accommodates around 12,500 inmates.

In the Sabarmati Central Jail alone, which has two sections — one for the under trials and the other for the convict, inmates used to smoke bidis worth Rs 1.99 lakh and cigarettes worth Rs 45,000 every year. Of the 3,500 prisoners here, 2,700 have the habit of smoking bidis and cigarettes with the money they earn by working within the jail premises. On an average, tobacco worth around Rs 1.01 lakh is consumed by the inmates in a year.

It should be noted that jail authority had, six months ago, written to the state government requesting it to ban chewing tobacco and smoking in jails as it poses health hazard. The government had encouraged the ban.

P C Thakur, additional director general of police (prisons) told Mirror, “The state government has responded positively to our proposal and we have already implemented the ban in all our jails.” The bidis, cigarettes and tobacco were available in the jail canteens.

Talking about the adverse effects of the ban, Thakur said, “We have been running different meditation programmes, Yoga and Dhyan shibirs in the jails which has helped the inmates to curb the urge to smoke or chew tobacco. We want everyone to follow the ban. If someone is caught breaking the ban, strict actions will be taken against him, be it a jail official, staff or an inmate. Actions against the inmates will be taken as per the Prisons Act or we may put restrictions on their furlough process and parole. He may also be shifted to some other cell.”

Thakur further added, “If the offender is from among the jail staff, departmental actions will be taken against him/her.”

Dinesh Vankar, senior jailor of Sabarmati Central jail, said, “We have been keeping an eye on the prisoners and staffers through close circuit cameras. Whenever we find anything fishy, we rush our men to the spot. Therefore the violation of the ban is not possible.”

It should be noted that earlier smoking was banned in the jails but the ban was later lifted by the state government.