Half the states now ban tobacco for staff and inmates on prison grounds, reports USA Today. Georgia plans to enact a smoking ban Dec. 1, says Bronson Frick of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation. Many other states have bans that primarily outlaw tobacco use but have some type of exception such as staff smoking areas. Smoking bans help save states money on health care and prevent guards and inmates from being exposed to secondhand smoke on the job.
Instead of a “cold turkey” approach, some prisons allowed bans to phase in gradually, hoping that would create less of a stir among the prison populations. In Virginia, inmates were notified in January 2009, more than a year before the ban launched. Ohio went tobacco-free March 1, 2009. The corrections department has had to discipline a few staff members over tobacco use, said the agency’s Julie Walburn–33 cases in a staff of 13,000. Tobacco products have become a popular item on the inmate contraband market.