Some of the country’s most notorious jails are braced for violence and unrest after it emerged that they will have to implement a complete smoking ban by the end of the summer.
A memo seen by the Daily Telegraph has warned all prisoners in long term and maximum security jails to start preparing for the change in policy which will come in on August 31.
Inmates are being advised to sign up for courses and apply for nicotine replacement patches to help them beat their addiction in time for the ban.
More than 80 per cent of inmates currently smoke, but a complete ban is being introduced to help protect the health of staff and inmates, in line with the UK wide ban on smoking in workplaces.
A pilot scheme, which began in Wales last year, saw 21 prisons become smoke free, but this is the first time high security jails, housing the most dangerous prisoners, will be included.
An independent report into the smoking ban at HMP Cardiff found there was a sharp rise in vandalism and violence, which was thought to be partly down to the stress of withdrawal.
Criminal justice experts have warned that the move is likely to spark a backlash from inmates, who will be angry at the removal of one of their few privileges.
Another concern is that the ban on tobacco could lead to more prisoners seeking out illicit substances to alleviate their addiction, such as the highly potent synthetic drug, Spice, which has been blamed for a number of deaths in custody.