LONG Lartin prison is leading the way in protecting both prisoners and staff from the effects of second-hand smoke.

The jail is the first in the country to be given a special recognition award under the National Clean Air Award, the scheme that acknowledges employers who implement effective workplace smoking policies.

The drive towards a smoke-free environment at Long Lartin has been a multi-disciplinary effort involving representatives from healthcare, health and safety, occupational health, senior managers and staff.

"The aim was to promote a healthier environment by limiting he effects of inhaled second-hand smoke, " said Phil Ducie, health and safety advisor at the prison. "It was acknowledged at an early stage that a totally smoke-free environment was not possible in the light of traditional attitudes among prisoners.

"Although it was considered unfair to restrict individual prisoners from smoking in their cells, common areas and all staff areas in Long Lartin were made smoke-free."

The smoking policy became effective on January 1 this year (2005), 12 months after the policy was published.

In order to support smokers, over the past year a number of smoking cessation activities were organised for prisoners and staff, including specialist smoking cessation courses, provision of nicotine replacement therapy and discounted access for staff to specialist smoking cessation services."

Sharon Naylor, occupational health advisor at Long Lartin, played a key role with Mr Ducie in supporting those wishing to quit and actively pushed the issue to the top of the senior management agenda, so ensuring the successful implementation of the policy.