Prisoners get their e-cigarettes, but at what cost?

Last updated: September 02. 2014 9:12AM - 885 Views
By Bill Smith

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With the governors’ signature affixed, legislation to allow county jails to sell e-cigarettes has been adopted. E-cigarette companies are celebrating because they are the only winners in this matter. The original bill would have just let inmates buy them if they were trying to overcome their nicotine addiction, but this would have been a nightmare to enforce. The fact that the jails will make a profit off of the sale of the devices only clouds the situation.

First, they have never been proven to be a nicotine substitute and they are not an FDA-approved smoking-cessation tool. Why do they have to be provided anyway? There is no move afoot to put kegs of beer in the jail for alcohol dependent people or to address substance abusers that take oxycodone.

Second, 26 of the 65 compounds found in e-cigarettes are on the FDA’s list of harmful and potentially harmful substances.

Not enough research has been conducted to determine the long-term effect on the smokers or the second-hand effect on non-smokers. Complaints are being registered about the effect these vapors are having on surrounding people, which means the guards would be in harm’s way.

Third, and this would be a sheriff’s concern, there is no guarantee that the device cannot be made into a weapon of sort. Although they would make them out of plastic instead of metal, inmates have proven to be very creative in altering things into weapons.

Fourth, what if you do not have money for an e-cigarette, but someone else does have enough to buy one, are you just going to sit idly by while he enjoys his smoke?

So we have common sense trampled by the one true American virtue. If it was such a great idea, why were state prisons not allowed to do it? Perhaps there was concern about medical costs and security, but hey, if you don’t have those concerns locally, have at it.

Or was the real spark the announcement that R.J. Reynolds is rolling out a new disposable electronic cigarette that will be manufactured in North Carolina — the thought of doing anything that would negatively affect a business is viewed as verboten by this administration. In our region, only Rep. Ken Goodman voted against this bill. Thank you for taking the higher ground.

As a reminder, restaurants and other businesses have the right to ban e-cigarettes at their discretion.

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