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Johnston County Sheriff Says No Butts About It As Smoking Ban Takes Effect

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SMITHFIELD — No smoking signs are on walls most everywhere, including inside the Johnston County jail where the sheriff is forcing inmates to stop smoking.

Beginning Sept. 1, there will be no cigarettes at all in the Johnston County jail. Even in tobacco country, inmates will be forced to do without.

"First thing you've got to give up is your clothes. We're going to put you in a jump suit," Sheriff Steve Bizzell says to prisoners. "Second thing that you're going to give up is your cigarettes. We're not going to allow smoking in the Johnston County jail anymore."

Sheriff Steve Bizzell, who grew up on a farm, says the move is not a slap at the tobacco industry; it is a way to keep the jail clean.

A recent sweep through the place showed that excessive smoke had left a yellow film on the walls.

Cigarettes can also be a fire hazard.

Bizzell hopes the ban will also keep some inmates from returning. He says inmates know which jails are tough and will go out of their way to avoid them. Inmates were told about the ban last month.

And inmates are not the only ones forced to make the change. The jail staff is also on notice. Jailers can still smoke, but they have to go into a shelter to do it.

Lieutenant Tom Langley sees it as the perfect time to quit. "I started cutting back because of the no smoking policy," he says. "I was smoking two packs a day. I've cut down to 15 cigarettes a day."

The jail may ban other forms of tobacco, including chewing tobacco, in the future.