No More Butts Behind Bars: Smoking Will Be Banned in Florida Prisons

Even though drug laws haven't stopped illicit substance abuse in prisons, Florida's new prison chief hopes that banning cigarettes will keep inmates from smoking. Prisoners have six months to kick the habit before cigarettes go from currency to contraband, according to the state Department of Corrections. DOC officials said that treating inmates for tobacco-related illnesses cost taxpayers almost $9 million in the past year.        

"Eliminating smoking is a win for taxpayers, but it's also a win for employees and inmates, making our facilities healthier places to work and live in, and making them a little safer too," DOC secretary Edwin Buss said in a press release. 

Buss claimed that removing lighters will help make prisons safer by reducing the chance of arson. Designated smoking areas will be set up outside the prisons for employees and smoking cessation assistance will be offered for inmates. 

More than half of U.S. states have already banned smoking in their prisons, according to a report in USA Today last year.

Of course, it's not always a smooth transition. When Georgia first implemented a smoking ban in 1995, about 150 inmates at the Lee Correctional Institution staged a protest and refused work, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. In July 2005, California banned tobacco in its prisons and sparked a black market, which drove the price of a pack of smokes as high as $125. 

With cigarettes as contraband, however, it remains unclear how an inmate will be penalized for the new infraction. This reminds me of a New York case, in which smoking a marijuana joint cost a prisoner five extra years and taxpayers about $250,000. 

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