After about four weeks of selling e cigarettes to inmates at the Gage County Detention Center, Sheriff Millard Gus Gustafson didn t expect a flood of opinions on the matter.

Following discussions about whether or not to allow inmates to purchase and use the vapor based nicotine inhalants on Friday, however, the issue has generated more discussions locally as well as across the state and nation, even finding its way into the Wall Street Journal s Law Blog Monday.

On Tuesday, Gustafson spoke before the Gage County Board of Supervisors about selling e cigarettes to inmates and allowing them to be puffed within the walls of the county jail.

E cigarettes are plastic tubes the shape and size of a rolled cigarette which carry nicotine into the lungs through water vapor rather than smoke. Each e cigarette carries approximately the same nicotine as one pack of regular cigarettes.

Gustafson learned about e cigarettes when the county was negotiating a contract for housing prisoners with Washington County, Kan. in November.

The Washington County jail administrator said the county has not had any problems with the e cigarettes to date.

The Gage County Sheriff s Office later purchased 100 e cigarettes for inmates and more than half have already been scooped up by the inmates, who can buy four and use one at any time.

Jail administrator Lt. Tony Shepardson said the e cigarettes were selling like hotcakes during the law enforcement committee meeting last week, helping to pacify the inmates and improving the safety of corrections staff.

Gage County banned smoke and smokeless tobacco products on all county property and in county vehicles in August 2007, while a proposed ban of vapor or e cigarettes has been added to a revised draft of the county employee handbook.

Gustafson said the proposed policy change spurred him to bring it before the county board to seek a recommendation on how to proceed, saying the e cigarettes both calmed some prisoners going through withdrawals while also providing a financial incentive for the county.

Supervisor Gary Lytle, the county s law enforcement committee chairman, said Gustafson has authority to run the jail as he sees fit and the law enforcement committee left it to the sheriff to decide how to move forward.

But the other six supervisors split over whether the e cigarettes should be commissary items or even allowed on county property at all.

I think it shouldn t be totally in Gus ballpark, Supervisor Dennis Byars, a cancer survivor himself, said. We as a county regulate smoking on all of our properties this is our property, not Gus property.

Byars was also critical of the idea of generating income from inmates purchasing e cigarettes, saying it was the wrong thing for Gage County to say this is appropriate.

The county purchases the e cigarettes for $2.55 per tube and sells them to inmates for $7 each. The money is funneled back into the county s general fund.

I think having an e cigarette and having any influence of tobacco or nicotine in that jail is a horrible, terrible thing to do, Byars said. It s not good for anybody s health, the smoker, it s not good for the people who are around.

Supervisor Kathy Setzer, who is coordinating the county employees’ handbook revision, said although inmates do not fall under the employee handbook she believed it was not right for the county to sell e cigarettes to inmates.

They are in jail and I know this probably makes it easier for your jailers, but we are not in the business to make things more comfortable for people that are in jail, she said. If we don t allow our employees to use them on our property and we don t allow the public to use them on our property, why are we allowing the prisoners to use them on our property.”

Supervisor Terry Jurgens said the county jail is not the Hilton and that he did not have a problem with inmates smoking e cigarettes, while Supervisor John Hill, a retired pharmacist, said he is concerned about a potential abuse of the e cigarettes with other contraband smuggled into the jail.

Hill also said ex smokers could be affected by allowing the e cigarettes into the jail.

I have real concerns with ex smokers being next to somebody, Hill said. That urge to smoke does not go away, people tell me. People will give you their quit day from 30 years ago, but tell you if they picked up a cigarette, they d probably smoke it.

Cigarette – encyclopedia article about cigarette.

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The process of blending gives the end product a consistent taste from batches of tobacco grown in different areas of a country that may change in flavor profile from year to year due to different environmental conditions. 62

Modern cigarettes produced after the 1950s, although composed mainly of shredded tobacco leaf, use a significant quantity of tobacco processing by products in the blend. Each cigarette’s tobacco blend is made mainly from the leaves of flue cured brightleaf, burley tobacco, and oriental tobacco. These leaves are selected, processed, and aged prior to blending and filling. The processing of brightleaf and burley tobaccos for tobacco leaf “strips” produces several by products such as leaf stems, tobacco dust, and tobacco leaf pieces (“small laminate”). 62 To improve the economics of producing cigarettes, these by products are processed separately into forms where they can then be possibly added back into the cigarette blend without an apparent or marked change in the cigarette’s quality. The most common tobacco by products include

  • Blended leaf (BL) sheet a thin, dry sheet cast from a paste made with tobacco dust collected from tobacco stemming, finely milled burley leaf stem, and pectin. 63
  • Reconstituted leaf (RL) sheet a paper like material made from recycled tobacco fines, tobacco stems and “class tobacco”, which consists of tobacco particles less than 30 mesh in size ( 0.599 mm) that are collected at any stage of tobacco processing. 64 RL is made by extracting the soluble chemicals in the tobacco by products, processing the leftover tobacco fibers from the extraction into a paper, and then reapplying the extracted materials in concentrated form onto the paper in a fashion similar to what is done in paper sizing. At this stage ammonium additives are applied to make reconstituted tobacco an effective nicotine delivery system. 2
  • Expanded (ES) or improved stems (IS) ES are rolled, flattened, and shredded leaf stems that are expanded by being soaked in water and rapidly heated. Improved stems follow the same process but are simply steamed after shredding. Both products are then dried. These two products look similar in appearance but are different in taste. 62

In recent years, the manufacturers’ pursuit of maximum profits has led to the practice of using not just the leaves, but also recycled tobacco offal 2 and the plant stem. 65 The stem is first crushed and cut to resemble the leaf before being merged or blended into the cut leaf. 66 According to data from the World Health Organization, 67 the amount of tobacco per 1000 cigarettes fell from 2.28 pounds in 1960 to 0.91 pounds in 1999, largely as a result of reconstituting tobacco, fluffing and additives.

A recipe specified combination of brightleaf, burley leaf and oriental leaf tobacco will be mixed with various additives to improve its flavours.


Various additives are combined into the shredded tobacco product mixtures, with humectants such as propylene glycol or glycerol, as well as flavouring products and enhancers such as cocoa solids, licorice, tobacco extracts, and various sugars, which are known collectively as “casings”. The leaf tobacco will then be shredded, along with a specified amount of small laminate, expanded tobacco, BL, RL, ES and IS. A perfume like flavour/fragrance, called the “topping” or “toppings”, which is most often formulated by flavor companies, will then be blended into the tobacco mixture to improve the consistency in flavour and taste of the cigarettes associated with a certain brand name. 62 Additionally, they replace lost flavours due to the repeated wetting and drying used in processing the tobacco. Finally the tobacco mixture will be filled into cigarettes tubes and packaged.

A list of 599 cigarette additives, created by five major American cigarette companies, was approved by the Department of Health and Human Services in April 1994. None of these additives is listed as an ingredient on the cigarette pack(s). Chemicals are added for organoleptic purposes and many boost the addictive properties of cigarettes, especially when burned. citation needed

One of the chemicals on the list, ammonia, helps convert bound nicotine molecules in tobacco smoke into free nicotine molecules. This process is known as freebasing which enhances the effect of the nicotine on the smoker. citation needed

Cigarette butt