Florida Department of Corrections officials said they began limiting smoking on prison grounds April 1, and by Sept. 30 all prisons will be tobacco-free. Florida will be joining about two dozen other states that have already banned tobacco use in prisons.
State officials have estimated that tobacco-related illnesses are costing taxpayers about $9 million a year in hospitalization expenses.
In addition to saving taxpayer money, prisons also are expected to be cleaner without cigarette butts and chewed tobacco wads. They also are expected to be safer once cigarette lighters are banned.
To help nicotine-addicted inmates, prison canteens are selling a 14-day supply of nicotine patches for $34.99. However, patch sales will be discontinued along with sales of all other tobacco products Sept. 2.
The amount of tobacco and tobacco-related items that inmates will be allowed to have is being stepped down over the summer, and in September any inmates with tobacco-related items in their possession will be disciplined, officials said.
Longer shifts, fewer days
The prison system will begin a pilot program of the other cost-savings effort this summer at a Panhandle prison.
On June 10, correctional officers at Jefferson Correctional Institution will begin working 12-hour shifts over three days instead of their current eight-hour shifts over five days.
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