Officials at some Mississippi prisons say they are inundated with orders for tobacco products as the state prepares to re-allow inmates to smoke.
Correctional Commissioner Burl Cain ad in December, smoking would be legal in Mississippi prisons from February 1, a decade after the practice was banned.
Cain, who became commissioner last year, said the change would reduce the amount of smuggling smuggled into prisons.
“By selling the same cigarettes that are allowed to liberate people, we are breaking the contraband tobacco trade … by reducing contraband offenses by inmates and recovering for taxpayers some of the money needed to run prisons in the country. ‘State,’ he said in a statement.
Revenue from tobacco sales will be used to fund the Ministry of Corrections Reintegration Program, which teaches parole-eligible men and women the skills needed for jobs in the trade. Tobacco products must be sold at market price.
Some public health groups, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, oppose the change.
In a statement to WLBT-TV, officials of the organization said they were “disappointed” with the decision to legalize tobacco products by the Mississippi Department of Corrections. They called the ban a “lifesaving policy” and said detainees had the right to “breathe clean, smoke-free air”.
Cain said he was sympathetic to anti-smoking groups. However, he said he believed lifting the ban improved the quality of life for non-smokers.
“The state’s smoking ban was meant to protect others from secondhand smoke, but in prison it backfired by forcing inmates to buy and secretly smoke indoors,” Cain said. .
Cain said that under the new plan, prisoners have a designated area outside for smoking. Smoking cessation products will be available for those who want to quit.