By Andrea McCallum
TEABAGS have been banned at a prison – after inmates used them for lighting up instead of for their brew.
Prisoners within the Isle of Man Prison found the jail’s smoking ban too much and took drastic action.
The crafty criminals used the contents of the tea bags to make their own cigarettes.
But prison guards caught inmates puffing in the cells and were forced to seize the remaining teabags.
And now the morning brew is made with tea granules.
The unique £42 million prison – opened in August 2008 – is the only one in Europe with a smoking ban.
Inmates have been forced to give up their habit and even the guards have to relocate from the premises to light up.
Free nicotine patches and counselling sessions are on hand to help those struggling
A former prison said: “Stress levels are very high in the jail because of the smoking ban.
“When a warden comes back from having a fag in the car park they come in stinking of smoke and saying how enjoyable the cigarette was – and that just makes everyone mad.
“Many inmates turned to teabags and some even tried smoking dried banana skins.
“Then the governor decided to ban teabags and replace them with granules so we couldn’t smoke them.
“It’s a disgrace and it’s against people’s human rights.
“What is the problem with having a smoking shelter outside in the yard?
“Smoking is an addiction. Drug addicts still get their methadone and valium every day so why stop the smokers?”
A Facebook group has been set up to fight for the right to smoke in the prison – and it now has more than 200 members.
A spokesperson for the prison said: “All smoking prisoners are offered assistance through our professionally qualified medical team and prescribed nicotine replacement therapy in accordance with clinical guidance.”