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Arkansas Jail Requests Vapor Products for Inmates

Arkansas Jail Requests Vapor Products for Inmates

 

Jails across the country are transitioning into smoke-free zones, with many turning to vapor products as an alternative for inmates dealing with nicotine withdrawal. Recently a Sheriff’s office in Arkansas is asking the state to allow them to sell vapor to inmates in prison, said a report in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.


This has the threefold effect of helping prisoners wean off combustible cigarettes, making life easier for prison guards, and adding another source of revenue for prison systems. The referenced story highlights the increased need for vapor products as a safe way to handle nicotine and cigarette cessation as smoking bans become more common throughout American prisons.


The Benton County Sheriff’s Office has proposed that the county’s Justice of the Peace Committee of the Whole to allow vapor products to be sold to prisoners. The Justice of the Peace was deadlocked on the proposal with an initial 6-6 vote, but the issue is likely to be brought up again at a forthcoming meeting. If approved, the Sheriff’s Office plans to spend about $2,500 to stock the shelves with special jail-friendly vapor products.


Capt. Jeremy Guyll of the Benton County Jail estimated that 90 percent of its inmates smoke, according to the Gazette. He said he asked 18 inmates in a pod and found that everyone smoked, adding that all said they would be willing to try vapor products.


In neighboring Tulsa County, Casey Roebuck, a spokesperson for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, said that their prisons started selling vapor products last year and that the money raised has been helpful to fund operations in the prison. They're selling non-flavored vapor devices for $9.32, while menthol and mixed berry flavors fetch $9.44.

It's worth noting here that we've already seen this type of transition away from smoking in prisons work well in other countries.


In February, we reported that the Isle of Man installed a similar program after phasing out smoking in 2008. Since the cigarette ban was put in place, prison guards reported that prisoners smoked tea leaves, banana peels, and other assorted items imbued with nicotine extracted from traditional nicotine replacement therapy patches. There were also reports of prisoners cutting electrical wires to spark up self-made contraptions, causing power outages.


Once prisoners had access to vapor products, smoking-related incidents substantially declined, nicotine intake among prisoners has been lower than ever, and some prisoners have safely quit using nicotine altogether. The prison system closely monitored use of vapor products by guards, and they have been seen as a privilege that can be taken away as a form of discipline.


Selling vapor products to inmates is, in some ways, a microcosm to see how vapor affects people in a controlled environment. It fits within the ethos of the vapor industry whose focus is on harm reduction and rehabilitation.

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