The next public places where smoking could be banned might be state prisons. 

The state corrections department’s budget is about 660-milion dollars a year.  Officials have told legislative budget writers about 142-million dollars of that–about 22$– is spent on healthcare for inmates and staff.  “A staggering number,” says Senator Jim Lembke, “and we’ve got to address it.”

Lembke, from St. Louis, says that expense continues to “explode.”   He has listened to department officials tell the Senate appropriations committee that cardiac care and cancer are the most expensive part of the inmate healthcare costs.  He thinks banning smoking in prisons will reduce those costs. 

He’s introduced a bill to ban smoking in prisons–by staff as well as inmates. He sys the ban on staff smoking, too, will improve staff health and will limit the possibility that cigarettes can be smuggled in.  

Lembke knows he’ll have some unhappy inmates.  “But,” he says, “this is prison,” and people in prison lose a lot of their liberties—and smoking is one he thinks will be good for them to lose

 Sen. Lembke discusses his bill 2:56 mp3