Deliver A Dose Of
Nicotine, No Odor
BY KEN LITTLE
Electronic cigarettes are proving to be very popular at the Greene County Detention Center.
The smokeless "e-cigarettes," which deliver a dose of nicotine through a vaporized liquid solution, have been well received by inmates at the county jail, where all tobacco products are prohibited.
They were introduced at the jail several months ago, Sheriff Steve Burns said Thursday.
"We had discussed it with some vendors at one of the sheriff's (association) meetings. Some other counties were doing it, and it was working out for them, and we just thought we would give it a try and see how it works," Burns said.
E-cigarettes are also sold in jail commissaries in Carter, Johnson, Macon and Putnam counties in Tennessee.
'VERY FEW PROBLEMS'
"So far, so good," Burns said. "We've had very few problems with them. It's just a vapor."
Each battery-powered e-cigarette contains the nicotine equivalent to about three packs of standard cigarettes, yielding several hundred puffs.
E-cigarettes are sold individually. Inmates who smoke are able to buy the e-cigarettes at the jail commissary at $10 apiece.
"We put their name on it, and they have to turn it in before we sell them another one," Burns said.
There are several benefits to making the odorless e-cigarettes available to inmates, Burns said.
"Our commissary generates revenue that helps run the jail," he said.
Burns did not specify how much the e-cigarettes cost the county. Johnson County pays $5.25 per cigarette.
Tobacco is one of the main substances that inmates attempt to smuggle into the jail when they are locked up, Burns said.
"When you eliminate tobacco from a jail, then tobacco products become one of the biggest contraband issues," Burns said.
"If [the use of electronic cigarettes] helps that out, it eliminates a lot of the searching you have to do."
A significant percentage of jail inmates smoke. E-cigarettes may have a calming effect on some inmates forcibly weaned from tobacco by the jail's no-tobacco policy.
"It's [the availability of electronic cigarettes] relatively new, but in my experience it seems that the inmates like them," Burns said.
Some groups, such as the American Lung Association, have expressed concern about the possible health and safety consequences of using e-cigarettes.
"There is no government oversight of these products, and absent Food and Drug Administration oversight, there is no way for the public health, medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long term health implications might be," according to a recent statement from the American Lung Association.