Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Smoking ban urged for Butler County prisoners

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The Butler County commissioners and two physicians organizations urged Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard on Monday to ban smoking in the new Butler County Jail.

        Sheriff Gabbard said he'll try to cooperate with the commissioners but doesn't know whether it's feasible to prohibit inmates and staff from smoking in the new jail, which is under construction.

        He's concerned that depriving nicotine-dependent inmates of cigarettes could spark outbursts of violence and could spur lawsuits.

        The commissioners invited representatives from the Butler County Medical Society and the Hamilton Fairfield Area Academy of Medicine to present their proposal for a smoke-free jail.

        Such a policy would promote the good health of smokers and nonsmokers who work in the jail and who are incarcerated there, said Dr. Brad Woodall, president of the Hamilton Fairfield Academy of Medicine.

        Commissioner Mike Fox said there are economic and health benefits to a smoke-free jail. Buildings that prohibit smoking have lower mainte nance costs, he said.

        The county commissioners, who have no control over policies in the jail, banned smoking in county buildings five years ago. That provoked a clash with Sheriff Gabbard.

        In the main county jail and Resolutions, the county's minimum security jail, inmates can smoke in their cells. Staff members whose work areas are not accessible to the public can smoke at their desks.


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