Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 97–107 | Cite as

The Use of Tobacco as Gambling Currency by Federal Offenders in Canada Before and After a Tobacco Ban

  • Nigel E. Turner
  • Denise L. Preston
  • Steven Mcavoy
  • Laura Gillam
Original Paper


In 2008 tobacco was banned in federal correctional institutions in Canada. In this paper we compare the use of tobacco as currency for gambling in two studies that we conducted, one before and one after the tobacco ban. The data from two studies were compared. The questionnaires were administered to offenders in federal and provincial institutions in Ontario. Study 1 included 254 male offenders and study 2 included 395 male offenders. The focus in this paper is on one questionnaire about the type of wager made while incarcerated. It was found that the use of tobacco as a currency in gambling went from 28.6% of those offenders who gamble to 2.3% of those offenders who gamble. In addition, there was an overall decrease in the number of federal offenders who reported gambling while incarcerated. However, information gained from the questionnaire and from interviews with incarcerated offenders suggests that there has been a shift to money wagers and that gambling inside has become more serious since the tobacco ban. The results suggest that the ban on smoking has resulted in a change in the type of currency used for gambling inside correctional institutions in Ontario Canada.


Gambling Correctional institution Problems Smoking Tobacco ban 



We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Crystal Saunders during study 1, and the help of Angela Paglia-Boak at conducting some of the analyses reported in this paper. This report was funded by a grant from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Center. In addition, support to Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for salary of scientists and infrastructure has been provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (OMHLTC).

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel E. Turner
    • 1
    • 3
  • Denise L. Preston
    • 2
  • Steven Mcavoy
    • 1
  • Laura Gillam
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social, Prevention and Health Policy ResearchThe Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Parole Board of CanadaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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