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Helsinki Prison to go non-smoking, inmates critical

Smoking tobacco in the Sörnäinen prison will be restricted in August.

Helsingin vankila.
A majority of inmates in the Sörnäinen Prison smoke tobacco. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Smoking cigarettes will be restricted in the Helsinki Prison beginning in August, says director Jouko Pietilä. He says the prisoners have already complained about the coming change.

"We're going to try out a system where a guard doles out three cigarettes a day to each prisoner from their own packs, to be smoked outdoors," Pietilä says.

The goal of the ban is to see how prohibiting tobacco will work in an environment where most people smoke.

The corridors of the prison currently have smoking stations that suck out the cigarette smoke.

Seven prisoners out of ten in the under 25-year-olds' ward are smokers, according to one 21-year-old inmate who is not happy about the coming ban. Younger prisoners are housed separately from the rest of the population.

"I imagine it will be difficult for those with life sentences especially, when that gets taken away from them as well," the young man says.

The prison, in the Sörnäinen area in Helsinki, also has a drug rehabilitation community called Sörkka that helps convicts stay sober. This is done by housing recovering inmates separately from the rest of the prison, where the prison's assistant director Tero Kurenmaa says illegal drugs are widely available despite the prison's prohibition.

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