Illinois state prisons to conform to smoking ban

By Shaina Humphriese

Starting this week inmates in Illinois prisons will have to kick their butts – cigarette butts, that is.

This week marks the beginning of a crackdown, leading up to the complete ban of all tobacco products on January first. The ban is going into effect in compliance with The Smoke-Free-Illinois Act. There are many in opposition to the law, but Illinois Department of Corrections Spokesman, Derek Schnapp says that they have no choice.

“We’re following the law, and come Jan. 1, our plan is to have our facilities smoke-free and tobacco-free.,” Schnapp said.

The ban will include any and all forms of tobacco. No one, including employees and visitors, will be allowed to have tobacco products. As for inmates who are currently allowed to smoke, the Department of Corrections is using a gradual program to limit tobacco use until it’s completely banned.

Schnapp is not sure how many inmates actually smoke but says there is help for those who are addicted.

“They’ve been offered any kind of help or cessation programs,” Schnapp said. “We have medical units and health poviders in all of our facilities across the state.”

There has been a lot of angry reaction from prison employees who, themselves smoke, but Schnapp says some workers are happy with the ban.

“Well, first of all, I mean you have a smoke-free environment,” he said. “I think that’s where the country is going. This is something that is not new, not only to the corrections system through Illinois, but country-wide.”

Along with the ban in Illinois prisons smoking will be prohibited in or within 15 feet of any public facility or place of employment. People also can’t light up in any vehicle that’s owned, leased, or operated by the state.