A prisoner has won a landmark ruling that the ban on smoking in public places applies to state prisons and all Crown premises.
A High Court judge made the ruling despite fears that rigorously imposing the ban could lead to unrest in the jails of England and Wales.
The judge rejected Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s argument that the 2006 Health Act, which makes smoking a criminal offence in enclosed public places and workplaces, does not “bind the Crown” and does not apply in state prisons.
Mr Justice Singh, sitting in London, declared: “In my judgment it is clear from the terms of the 2006 Act…that the intention of Parliament was indeed that it should apply to all public places and workplaces which fell within its scope, including those for which the Crown is responsible.”
Because of the wide-ranging importance of the case, the judge postponed his ruling taking effect to give the Justice Secretary time to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Giving permission to appeal, the judge acknowledged concerns in the Prison Service over the impact of his decision on “prisoners who feel the need to smoke and may be resistant to the criminalising of that conduct in places where in my view the Health Act does apply”.
His decision was a victory for Paul Black, an inmate at HMP Wymott in Lancashire, who says he suffers from a range of health problems made worse by second-hand smoke.