Prisoners spending more than £7,000,000 a year on vapes and e-cigarettes | UK News

Exclusive: Big tobacco wins as prisoners spend £7,000,000 a year on vapes and e-cigarettes Prison corridor and bars in an abandoned prison

Big business has thrived as inmates have spent millions to satisfy their nicotine cravings (Image: Getty Images, iStockphoto)

Activists have warned about prison conditions after figures showed inmates are spending more than £7 million per year for vapes and e-cigarettes.

Spending on canteens has risen every year since 2019 after the government gradually introduced a smoking ban in closed prisons in England and Wales.

Prison reform groups say inmates who spend long hours in their cells are turning to the products when there is a lack of healthier activities.

In the last financial year, inmates spent £7,655,766 on vapes and £7,930 on e-cigarettes – a three-year high overall.

Prisoners have already spent £6,730,176 of their own money on vapes alone in the period to January.

British American Tobacco (BAT) and Manchester-based Supreme Imports Ltd were named as suppliers of the products in the data released by the Department of Justice (MoJ).

In 2018, reported how vaping rose in popularity after the previous year’s smoking ban was phased in.

At the time, an inmate released from Foston Hall Prison in Derbyshire said: “I could not have served my two-month sentence without my vape.”

She also shared how refill packs had become prison currency among inmates after receiving them.

Howard League for Penal Reform campaign director Andrew Neilson said: “This increased spending reflects in part how prison populations have risen since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaping has become popular in prisons according to the latest spending figures (Image: Shutterstock, file image)

Vaping gains popularity in prisons according to the latest spending figures (Image: Shutterstock, file image)

“But it could also indicate how people in prison are turning to vapes and e-cigarettes to overcome the boredom of spending endless hours locked in their cells. Fresh air, exercise and a range of positive activities are all essential to helping those in prison live healthier lives.”

Inmates’ time outside their cells has been cut drastically during the pandemic, and the Prison Reform Trust warned this week that the lack of “association” was an ongoing problem.

Executive director Pia Sinha said: “Prison is a stressful environment with many prisoners locked in their cells for up to 23 hours a day with little to do.

“So it’s understandable that many turn to nicotine for comfort.

“Cigarettes have been banned in prisons for a number of years.

“From a health perspective, it is preferable for prisoners to use e-cigarettes and e-cigarettes than to smoke.”

A row of colorful disposable electronic cigarettes on a dark wooden background with smoke. The concept of modern smoking, vaping and nicotine.; Shutterstock ID 2184742369; Confirmation of the order: -; Work: -; Client: -; other: -

A pack of electronic cigarettes similar to those made available to prisoners in England and Wales (Image: Shutterstock)

Vapes and e-cigarettes have been made available to prisons since 2015 to try to wean inmates off tobacco.

In the years since, synthetic cannabinoids, including spice and mamba, have become a problem at the winery. A dispute over spices was reportedly among a catalog of violent incidents at HMP Belmarsh uncovered by in February.

Meanwhile, spending on vapes has grown from £4,446,459 in FY2019-2020 to £7,655,766 between 2021-2022. Spending on e-cigarettes has fallen from £23,656 to £7,930 over the same period.

Figures released to under the Freedom of Information Act show that BAT’s Ten Motives and Supreme Imports’ 88Vape are currently available behind bars.

Vaping has become popular in prisons according to the latest spending figures (Image: Shutterstock, file image)

Prisoners need more support to ensure they are rehabilitated, commentators say (Image: File Image by Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images)

The 88Vape rechargeable pen is available to prisoners with starter kits and flavors including menthol, berry, raspberry ripple, and cola ice, according to the disclosure.

In response to the inquiry, the MoJ said: “Prison canteen services offer prisoners a wide range of products (including vapes) supplied by an approved national supplier who is responsible for sourcing products to meet the needs of the population.

“All purchases in the canteen are made by the prisoners with their own money.”

England is now the largest smoke-free prison settlement in Western Europe, according to the MoJ.

A spokesman said: “All closed prisons have been smoke-free since 2018 to protect staff and prisoners from second-hand smoke.

“Prisoners can purchase vaporizers and e-cigarettes at their own expense – which many use to help them quit smoking.”

MORE: Catalog of ‘terrible’ violence among inmates at maximum security prison exposed

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Justin Scaccy

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