The Missouri Department of Corrections is slowly implementing its new tobacco-free policy that goes into full effect in the spring. Starting April 1, 2018, all Missouri state prisons will be tobacco-free.
Karen Pojmann, the department’s communications director, said the inmates and staff will have time and resources to help them quit.
“We want to make sure that our offenders and employees are prepared and that they have the proper tobacco cessation materials and information and education that they need if they want to quit smoking,” Pojmann said.
The policy is being implemented in steps. In November, the Department of Corrections and its health care providers began offering tobacco cessation classes to both staff and inmates. In December, all canteens in the facilities will be stocked with nicotine patches. Support groups will also be formed. Changes in the facilities will continue until March 16, when all tobacco sales will stop.
According to the department, the classes, patches, support groups and other resources will not cost the state any more money. Pojmann said the prisons’ health care providers already offer these things.
"So anyone who wants to quit at any time can take advantage of those resources, can get educational materials and get access to nicotine replacement therapy products that are covered by health insurance,” she said.
The court-ordered policy comes after a lawsuit was filed by an inmate, who claimed he was suffering from secondhand smoke.