Should Missouri ban inmates from smoking?

Some Missouri lawmakers want to snuff out cigarettes at state prisons.

Bills filed recently in both the Missouri House and Senate would prohibit smoking or the use of tobacco products anywhere on the grounds of state correctional facilities.Any person who violates the provisions of this act is guilty of an infraction.

One of the sponsors is Republican Sen. Jim Lembke of St. Louis, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He says the proposed tobacco ban is a financial issue.

Lembke says the cost of medical care for prisoners has risen significantly.

"Out of a $660 million budget for the Department of Corrections $142 million is for healthcare for our prisoners. So after doing some investigating, I found that there are a lot of treatment for cardiac and cancer, MO District 1 Senator Jim Lembke said. Of course those tie back to smoking."

Sen. Lembke told KRCG the bills are very important, and if passed it would save taxpayers money.

"My aim here is to be a good steward of the people's money, and find ways we can cut the budget. This seems like an area where we can save money on healthcare cost for prisoners that would be good for taxpayers, Lembke said.

Lembke said when people go to prison they loose their rights. So they shouldn't have the right to use tobacco products.

"I certainly think there are gong to be some unhappy prisoners. But they are in prison and they don't have the right to smoke, Lembke said. You loose a lot of rights when you got to prison. you loose your right to vote, you loose your right to liberty, and all kinds of things."

Missouri wouldn't be the first state to outlaw tobacco.

According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, 13 states currently prohibit the use of all tobacco products both indoors and outdoors on the grounds of correctional facilities.Do you think tobacco should be prohibited at Missouri's correctional facilities?