By: Julia Collins
Over the past ten years, the market for electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) has grown, increasing in production and consumer population. An e-cig is a battery-powered smokeless device that heats liquid nicotine solutions to produce inhalable vapor. One huge market for electronic cigarettes is in county jails across the United States for inmates to purchase. Jailers and government officials believe that selling e-cigs to inmates has not only decreased the health risks among users such as agitation and those with nicotine withdrawal, but it also has decreased the amount of traditional cigarette contraband in jails. By having e-cigs available to inmates, you allow them to have the option to purchase something that can help them with withdrawal problems and calm them down, as they feel anxious without it. Studies show that e-cigs have helped in improvement of behavior in inmates and have caused less fighting and arguments.
For e-cig producers and marketers this is a great opportunity, for they have a large target market and a great demand for the product. This new market has become one of the primary sources of income for e-cig producers. Jails are a huge market and only specific e-cigs can be sold into jails. These e-cigs must be made of plastic and inspected by the jailers. The marketers are able to get back the used e-cigs from jails because the inmates must return used products in order to purchase another. The market for e-cigs in jails is growing because cigarettes are banned in jails and are becoming harder for inmates to sneak in due to tighter protection laws. The e-cig does not produce smoke that can be toxic to those around them. Instead, it is an odorless vapor. This is a key factor of the product and beneficial to marketers because no lighter is needed, is does not smell like a traditional cigarette, and they are cheaper than a pack of traditional cigarettes. E-cigs however, can be used in smoke free environments because there are little regulations according to the FDA. Marketers can then present them as “smokeless tobacco products that have no health problems.”
I personally do not agree, and I believe nicotine it is a horrible chemical that can cause many health problems. Cigarettes contain seven thousand chemicals, and sixty-nine of them are carcinogens. But for those who do smoke, and a large portion of the inmates in jails are smokers; I think that e-cigs provide the option to continue their use but not harm those around them with second hand smoke. Many say that they should not be sold in jails because they should not be given the right to purchase that type of product. I look at differently. Addictions can be hard to fight, and many of the inmates were not trying to quit smoking before they were arrested. So with the option to purchase and smoke an e-cig, inmates are given the chance to smoke, or use the e-cig to try and quit. E-cigs may not be a safe product, but they are safer than cigarettes, and safer to have in jails.