Some TN counties marketing e-cigarettes to jail inmates

Some county jails in Tennessee are allowing inmates to smoke electronic cigarettes behind bars to help pacify what can be a rowdy population and to make money, reports The Tennessean.

These disposable e-cigarettes, which usually cost the inmates between $9 and $15 each, contain no tobacco but instead use a low-voltage battery to deliver the key chemical in cigarettes, nicotine, while emitting only water vapor.

The Tennessee Department of Correction does not allow e-cigarettes in prison. But e-cigarettes behind bars are growing increasingly common across the country, and at least five Tennessee counties have allowed them into their jails. E-cigarette companies have begun exhibiting at Tennessee Sheriffs Association conferences, promising a cash cow for jails.

“Earn $1000s for your jail,” read one sign at the group’s summer 2013 conference, from a company called Precision Vapor.

Sumner County on April 11 began allowing jail inmates to order e-cigarettes, for $14.45 a pop (including shipping), directly from a Georgia-based company called JailCigs. Each one provides about 500 puffs, or the equivalent of two to three packs of cigarettes. A typical pack of cigarettes goes for around $6 in Tennessee.

For every e-cigarette sold, JailCigs places $5 in Sumner County’s general fund.