tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Quebec inmates challenging federal ban on tobacco in prisons

Life without nicotine appears to be softening even some of Quebec’s most notorious tough guys.

Food cravings, stress, headaches, sleeplessness – those are just some of the troubles listed by a group of prisoners unhappy with Ottawa’s ban on tobacco in federal prisons.

A group of 19 inmates in Quebec, including legendary drug trafficker Gerald Matticks, is behind a legal challenge being heard next week against the 16-month-old ban.

The rogue’s gallery of thieves, murderers and drug kingpins want the ban overturned, and have enlisted a high-profile human-rights lawyer to represent them.

Julius Grey, a Montreal constitutional lawyer, says the ban violates inmates’ charter rights and is discriminatory because guards can still smoke outside.

“Smoking is so politically incorrect that people forget how important it is in the lives of some people,” Mr. Grey, a non-smoker, said yesterday.

Canadian prisoners don’t lose rights other than those tied directly to their imprisonment, he said.

“The right to smoke is not an absolute right, but it is a life choice, and it is a significant life choice to some individuals,” he said.

“There is no logical reason you couldn’t smoke outside when you go for a walk.”

Nearly three-quarters of Canada’s federal inmates are smokers, according to figures issued by Correctional Service Canada when the total ban went into effect (the phase-in period started in May, 2008, and was completed by June that same year). An indoor smoking ban was instituted in 2006.

The prohibition has given rise to a lively contraband trade behind bars. Staff make regular seizures of illicit tobacco in prisons, and just last month guards confiscated three tobacco-laden balls that were lobbed over the walls of the Cowansville Institution in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

Lawyer Isabelle Turgeon is also representing the inmates, who are scattered throughout four different penitentiaries. She said the tobacco ban has exacerbated tensions in prisons. Guards taunt the inmates because staff can smoke outdoors in designated areas, she said.

“Most people think prisoners should all rot. But they’re still human beings, they’re not animals,” she said. “These are people who can be incarcerated for 20, 25 years. They lose their freedom, and on top of that, they can’t smoke.”

Affidavits that are part of the voluminous Federal Court file suggest that the ban is taking a toll even on some of the province’s most hardened criminals.

Mr. Matticks, known as the King of the Port of Montreal for his role in the drug trade, said he was a pack-a-day smoker and the ban has made his time behind bars “difficult.”

Benoît Guimond, a biker gang member serving time for murder, said he’s suffering physically and psychologically with symptoms including “a rise in aggressiveness, anxiety, stress … trouble sleeping [and] impatience.”

In a brief to the Federal Court, the inmates say their litany of woes caused by tobacco deprivation has, perversely, made them “greatly fear for their health.”

Correctional Services officials would not discuss the court action but said the smoking ban was instituted for the health and safety of both inmates and employees. It temporarily offered quit-smoking programs after the ban went into effect; inmates who now want buy nicotine gum must pay for it themselves through the prison canteen.

Quebec, meanwhile, backed off a total ban in its provincial prisons, and still allows smoking outdoors.

Oct. 10, 2009 Theglobeandmail

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