From Monday all prisons in the state will go smoke-free when an estimated 80 per cent of inmates will be forced to kick the nicotine habit.
Tobacco will be added to the list of contraband items for both inmates and prison staff, as part of a new health initiative.
Cigarettes, tobacco and smoking related items, such as matches, lighters and e-cigarettes, will be banned anywhere on the grounds of a correctional centre, complex or residential facility and anyone found with these items on premises will face charges.
Around various institutions across NSW, a similar state of preparedness exists.
Director of Custodial Corrections Glen Scholes visited Cessnock Correctional Complex on Friday to talk about the smoke-free program.
"This change was inevitable," he said. "It is an addiction, no one is underestimating the difficulty of giving it up. I haven't come across a single inmate that thought it was a bad idea."
The inmates will be unable to spark up from Monday but get a three week amnesty period, ending on August 30, to hand in any of the contraband items.
Those deemed suitable candidates will have access to nicotine replacement therapy, including patches.
Corrective Services NSW has prepared intensively for the changeover, after the new smoke-free rules incited a riot in a maximum security prison in Melbourne just last month.
Intelligence officers have been collecting information and riot squads have undergone several training exercises at the Cessnock site.
Mr Scholes said early intelligence suggested there was no planned disturbance or anti-social behaviour expected at the Cessnock Correctional Complex.
"We will not put up with or tolerate any negative behaviour," he said. "We understand there will be heightened tensions, but we are prepared for any incident."
The change are not expected to save the prison system any money, as inmates purchased tobacco with the money they earned from working during their prison sentence.
Staff at the correctional centre will also not be allowed to smoke on premises, similar to hospitals and government buildings.
Corrective Services NSW has extended the nicotine replacement therapy to staff to help them deal with the change.
There are more than 800 inmates at the Cessnock Correctional Complex and an estimated 80 per cent of the state's inmates smoke.
Mid North Coast Correctional Centre
NSW Corrective Services are not expecting any trouble when the state’s prisons become smoke free on Monday, August 10 - but they are prepared just in case.
It is estimated about 75 per cent of the more than 11,800 inmates in NSW prisons smoke.
There are 522 male and female inmates at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre (MNCCC) at Aldavilla.
The introduction of a smoking ban in Victoria last month was widely blamed for a 15-hour riot at the Melbourne Metropolitan Remand Centre.
The Immediate Action Team at the MNCCC, which responds to special jail security events, has been placed on standby, although prison officials are expressing confidence that the transition will go smoothly.
Glen Scholes is the director of custodial operations for the NSW northern region, based in Kempsey.
“I have been travelling all over my area of responsibility and I can tell you that from all my discussions with inmate delegate committees and staff, because this applies to them as well, I don’t think we will have any big problems,” he said.
Mr Scholes said he was not expecting a prison riot similar to the one seen in Victoria last month.
“We looked at the Victorian experience and I can tell you our way of operating is very different,” he said.
“New Zealand prisons are smoke-free as are those in Queensland and they have managed the change with minimal disturbance and I believe we will too.”
Junee Correctional Centre
Junee mayor Neil Smith says he has “full confidence” in the management of the town’s jail to deliver a smoking ban.
It is understood management at Junee jail – the state’s largest regional correctional centre – have implemented a gradual ban leading up to the deadline.
“It would be very difficult for management … but this is the way it’s got to be,” Cr Smith said.
“I probably feel for the inmates to some extent because I think the impact on inmates is going to be be greater than the general population. But, surely, it has got to be good for their health.”