smoking cigarettes
You can't smoke cigarettes in restaurants or offices in Florida and in six months inmates in state prisons won't be able to smoke cigarettes either. The state spends millions treating inmates for smoking health problems. Prisoners are currently allowed to smoke cigarettes outside, but not in their cells or anywhere else inside. About half of U.S. states ban smoking at prison facilities.

Florida's Department of Corrections estimates it spends $9 million a year treating inmates for cancer, emphysema and other smoking-related cigarettes health conditions. There are four prisons in Southwest Florida housing about five percent of the state's prison population. That means the state spends roughly $500,000 paying for smoking-related cigarettes health problems at local facilities in DeSoto, Hendry, Glades and Charlotte Counties.

But banning smoking won't only save taxpayers money, it may also prevent violence. "It will make our prisons safer," said prison system spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. "When you smoke cigarettes, you need a lighter. Lighters can be used as weapons by melting the plastic and putting razor blades inside. When this is used on another inmate, the department still pays for that inmate's health care costs, too."

Lighters will also be banned under the new rules. In fact, banning lighters will also likely cut down on arson. Last year, inmates started 74 fires in state facilities. Taxpayers pay to fix damage and clean up those messes, as well.

The Department of Corrections offers programs to help inmates quit smoking and plans to continue to do so. Eventually, the state hopes to save millions on smoking-related cigarettes health costs, but it won't happen overnight. Plessinger says the costs are predicted to fall gradually over time.
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