E-cigarettes are for sale at county jails around the United States even as some government officials, schools and health experts urge tighter control over the devices, especially in public buildings.
Many jail officials say the benefits of e-cigarettes outweigh any potential problems or health risks. They say e-cigarettes calm agitated inmates, decrease traditional cigarette contraband and bring in more revenue for the jails.
“With most jails and prisons banning tobacco-burning cigarettes, inmates who smoke often suffer nicotine withdrawal and become agitated and short-tempered,” said James Frye, chief deputy of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office in Sidne, eastern Ohio.
“We’ve seen a big improvement in behavior, with less arguments and fights,” he said.
Thomas Borland, jailed in Shelby County since October on a driving infraction, said he is grateful he can buy e-cigarettes.
“They help calm me down,” said the longtime smoker, who hopes the devices will help him quit tobacco cigarettes.
Other jails, including the Darlington County Detention Center in South Carolina, cite similar results with providing inmates e-cigarettes.
“Our main goal, though, was to cut down on people sneaking in cigarettes and loose tobacco, and we’ve seen a tremendous reduction there,” said. Mitch Stanley, center director.