Prisoners throughout Scotland will be given e-cigarette starter kits as part of the government’s plans to cut smoking rates behind bars.

Last year, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) announced plans to make prisons tobacco-free.

Public smoking bans were introduced throughout Scotland in 2006, though prisoners have been allowed to smoke in cells since.

As a result, the smoking rate is now five times higher in prisons than the general population. Rather than implement a cold turkey approach, the authorities have decided to try nicotine replacement via e-cigarettes, which are at least 95 percent safer.

The kits will be distributed to prisoners free of cost until January, and despite footing the initial £200,000 bill, the SPS believes that using an effective method of cessation will reduce costs in the long term.

An SPS spokesperson said:

“We recognise the difficult journey for some of those in our care during this transition and are planning to support them by giving the option to take up a rechargeable vaping device (RVD) introductory pack at no cost to the individual. While stopping smoking and nicotine consumption completely will always be the best option, RVDs will help those in our care to cope without access to tobacco while in custody.”

The scheme will come into effect on November 30.