By The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi prisons are going smoke-free Sunday.
Mississippi Department of Corrections officials said the policy covers any building, grounds and prisons operated by the agency.
Signs had been posted around the facilities for several weeks reminding employees and inmates of the policy.
MDOC spokeswoman Tara Booth said employees and inmates have known about the no-smoking policy since mid-December. She says the canteens in the prisons have been selling fewer and fewer tobacco products over the past few weeks.
Booth said the MDOC medical director will make patches and other smoking cessation products available to help those with severe addictions.
Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps said in a statement that the tobacco-free initiative would provide “a healthier atmosphere not only for our inmates, but for our staff as well.”
State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier said the Mississippi State Department of Health worked with MDOC officials to provide those cessation services.
“Implementing this tobacco-free policy within the MDOC system will help minimize illness and chronic disease in inmates, thereby reducing the need for the inmate population to seek medical treatment,” Currier said in a statement.
Currier said MSDH is working with the ACT Center for Tobacco Education, Treatment and Research to develop a program tailored for inmates needing assistance with quitting.